Race Recorder: August 5 2013 to October 15 2013

Nonfiction   |   by Soleil Ho

Monday, August 5, 2013 11:21 AM

maybe this would be a good intro to this piece though
“…in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.” – Edward Said
not just asian cultures, but I think orientalism can extend to latin american and central american cultures, african cultures, pacific cultures. esp in food.
“from the beginning of western speculation about the orient, the one thing the orient could not do was represent itself” – Said again
“you figure out ways to enjoy things even as they erase you, or render you invisible.” – bao phi
i’m comparing asian women’s bodies to food items. not just any food items, but pan-asian food items like boba tea, sticky rice, korean bbq
the only reason those neanderthals know how to make those references is bc of americanized asian restaurants

11:49 AM

korean barbecue google analytics

12:18 PM

transethnicity – people wanting to be korean, japanese bc they like the music
using “kawaii,” “oppan,” etc
“ni hao” from strange men on the street
people wanting asian babies of their own, professing desire to procreate with asian person so they can have one
the fetishization of mixed race children
thesis?: eating exotic food doesn’t make you an interesting or good person
signals sent: I’m cosmopolitan, knowledgable, adventurous, smart, open-minded

12:38 PM

hey amalia!
have you ever noticed how people get really excited about talking about how they like “exotic” food
perhaps even… a little smug
I’m reading this blog post by a white girl talking about pho
yes tell me more about how cool you are for liking pho
also check out Jeremy Binns, whitest man on earth

12:50 PM

hey maja, so I’m trying to brainstorm for an article that I’m writing
about how people treat eating food as a gateway to cultural experience
my question is
do you think people are still like that
it seems like there are definite class issues at play here too
like people are super into the idea of poor refugees staying in their place
and “americanized” food is demonized pretty heavily too
so it’s like they’re being punished for assimilating
it’s a catch-22, right
I feel like “adventurous” urban eaters are like parasites
once a certain cuisine has been sucked dry of meaning, they move onto the next hit
thus korean bbq
people love when refugees are stayin poor
it’s all about the white blandness
bland white american culture
I think I’m going to examine the reasons why people feel the need to embellish themselves with other people’s cultures
that might be a good angle
I’m still like, why is going to a hole-in-the-wall the biggest risk you’re comfortable taking
it’s also a luxury borne from being the default
and possessing the default subjectivity
I think choosing to identify as “white” is a very political choice
like, you’re allying yourself with whiteness and the construction thereof
like, you’re choosing the monolith
well, default is a symptom of capitalism
right?
and imperialism
hahaha I get it tho
I wonder if the idea of whiteness = blandness comes from imperialist rhetoric
I don’t think I get what you mean by “ignorance” then
I don’t think the system of appropriation, orientalism, etc existed before capitalism
yea but if you’re talking about general ignorance of like the earth being round I don’t know how relevant that is
I’m talking about a certain flavor of ignorance
being I think considering yourself a “plain old white person” is disingenuous for sure
hahaha that’s ok
spicy buffalo?
like, that plainness almost acts as an opposing magnetic force that pushes you toward meaning-finding in other cultures
it enables imperialist adventuring
hmmmm
that’s an interesting thought
I don’t know much about that
maybe it’s an attempt to escape responsibility
I’m knee-deep in whiteness rhetoric
I think there are better ways to atone for white guilt
right??
like actually doing something to help people rather than making yourself look good
indulgences used to be paid by good works
but capitalism
I think as mercantilism became a thing so did monetary donations in exchange for penance

4:14 PM

So are they calling Asian Americans “comfortable”? who felt victimized by their “art” idgi
1) omg 2) “black” jesus implies that there ever was a “white” jesus >:)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:02 AM

I don’t know how it feels to be white in a room full of whites
esp if you’re not aware of it
I wonder what everyone in the room thinks of it
I’m sure there are a lot of different feelings

Thursday, August 8, 2013 2:14 PM

asian flair
asian flair rhetoric
avors
alton brown
asian
chinese instruments
chinese zither
chinese asian typeface
racist asian condiments
asian flavors
annie wong
asian food supermarket

11:23 PM

I guess I should include the line, “ninja pussy I be stabbin”
oh god
there is such fuckery between asian ladies and dudes
I love that it’s retroactively satirical I love that the band isn’t racist because they aren’t racists
I love that
no doubt
at least that is the sense that I get from drake
who is kind of an asshole about it afaik
lol
all rapping about ethiopian girls
no dark skinned girls tho of course
american racism knows no boundaries nor makes any sense

Friday, August 9, 2013 11:20 AM

It’s pretty common in fiction, too, esp w characters of color. Skin is chocolate, caramel, burnt bread but no one writes that a white character has skin like chicken breast or muffin batter!

11:36 AM

yoooo amalia this famous food writer just RTed me
a tweet hating on white ppl lmao
there’s this decent article on food writers comparing food to women
I think frida kahlo wrote that everyone she met in sf had faces that looked like unbaked rolls
I also got RTed last night for tweethating on mayomore
I think I have a gimmick now
heavy table did a kind of racist review of a latino place
they noted tv screens showing videos of “hoochie mamas in miniskirts” and I was like guuuuuys noooo

11:37 AM

I think I’d be the meanest cooking reality show judge all like, “ok so first I’m docking 10 pts bc you’re ‘elevating’ thai food and you’re white” #stopchef

11:39 AM

kind of not sure about samuelsson man
did you hear about red rooster?
it’s a “soul food” resto in harlem
that neighbor ppl can’t actually eat at bc it’s too expensive and doesn’t do takeout
lmao
and it’s like, dude what what what are you doing stop

12:52 PM

omg I think I found the most racist twitter ever

1:00 PM

omg I’m working on my piece in this resto
I just realized that it’s that kind of place I’m talking about
I forgot! they’re the only coffee shop open in my neighborhood rn
auuuugh
they have $8 banh mi
dude did you ever go to 20.21 at the walker
they legit had $16 banh mi
I was just like
why
things don’t have to be expensive how do you improve on a banh mi that much
it’s impossible
yea, wolfgang puck can eat a dick
an asian fusion dick wrapped in artisanal seaweed

1:11 PM

girl you are gonna get stopped and frisked so hard
I think I’m going to do derelict for halloween
rip open a trash bag and glue actual trash to it
like I’m an inside out garbage can
a metaphor for third world oppression
the se asian woman’s body akin to the abject lol

3:46 PM

asians spotted in orange is the new black
asian people
ding ding ding ding
found my peeps

3:59 PM

ok so last night I was hanging with some grinnellian lesbians and they were like, ppl who hate piper from orange is the new black are self-hating white liberal arts girls
I think I hate that bc I hate the privileging of white liberal arts girl subjectivity
like why would you say that
like is acknowledging legit hatred of her by people of color not even important
like no one cares or wants to hear about it, the real story is white self-hate
same with girls
I don’t care about self-hate and ppl using that to guilt white people into liking a show
you know? I mean if piper and lena dunham are objects of self-hate… if they represent something real about the white liberal arts girl experience then damn, I have more hating to do
I didn’t think it was that bad
like ok how does it make you feel when poc make fun of white ppl
they were saying that hating her is self-hate
bc they are her
yea I think that comes from narcissism – but what’s new
I think it’s pretty damaging tbh
to have a venue for exorcising white guilt w/o doing anything about it, and by supporting a mostly all-white group
at least orange is the new black gives poc jobs
and exposure
like awesome now I know about samira wiley, laverne cox, etc etc
girls had like what, donald glover

Sunday, August 11, 2013 2:16 PM

Congratulations! You have won 2 White People Points for hating on Asian American women! (Redeemable for absolutely nothing.) using misogynistic and racist language against an Asian American woman.

Monday, August 12, 2013 11:33 PM

dude haven’t you heard miley totally invented africa #thanksmiley
today I’m laughing at the fact that this bitch I know called the black cat she was planning to adopt “cosby kitty”

11:46 PM

shit like this makes me so, so glad that I wasn’t born white
I can’t even imagine the vast emptiness they must feel
the bitter taste of coleslaw
that they just can’t brush out
so what does your “friend” mean by “intercultural exchange”
is he talking about sex with timid azn babes
I want to give him a fortune cookie that comes with a message saying, “too bad you’re white”
I can’t believe the hooker stereotype is still so huge
I mean I can, but seriously?
I guess he’s not that good at intercultural exchange after all
if he doesn’t get that
ohhhh shit
yeah murakami’s a bit like the yellow david foster wallace in that regard
but maybe with more cred because he’s exotic?
yeah seriously, the guy’s writing is probably so popular because it’s so white
it’s good, too, but I wouldn’t underestimate the power of the beatles reference
shit it’s the same thing and our parents are the ones who’ll get shit for it
they’re not cosmopolitan or smart, they’re just FOBs
no but it’s the same with everything
seriously like white boy cooks viet food, whoa how amazing! how versatile!
viet person does it, well that’s certainly logical… crickets
like whoa let’s go on an adventure to their dirty hole-in-the-wall and instagram that shit
white people can better us and our cultures, wendy. just ride the white whale~
lmao sorry
man, how many times have you been randomly “ni hao” on the street? ugh
I have still never gotten a good rationale for someone doing that
why is it justifiable to use when the targets for that question
are ppl marked by race?
like the payoff is never anything thoughtful or fun or goodfor in my case, the followup is generally, “OH! I love pho!” like great. ok. what can I do with this.
because we’re stuck on the idea that eating a cuisine = relating to the culture
that’s why there are always those nytimes flavor pieces that dissect fujianese cooking, or korean banchan, etc
because that way you can say you know a culture w/o actually having to engage in the messy stuff of getting to know history or people
yeah
lol
gotta have high standards
if you can’t have high standards, what can you have
my white husband is the result of years of careful cultivation
I had to marry him because I worked so hard to make him hate white patriarchy
people like that are like millennial comets
cyclical comets
you gotta catch em while you can because they’re so rare
it’s a miracle of nature
how do you not stop to wonder, why is “me love you long time” funny?
why do I find it funny, and why should my asian american girl friend find it funny?
but yeah like why would he do it in the first place??
like ok, I understand that we are hanging on a fairly precarious moral edge here, but it still seems pretty legit to be like, how about you don’t use misogynistic, ableist, and racist language toward a person regardless
like how about you guys try to seem a little less eager about that
Vietnamese woman cut off her husband’s dick earlier this year
and I’m sure they totally ignored the fact that he was raping her
I just love the super death metal detail of her putting it into the garbage disposal
yup
but they have a lot more empathy for penises than women

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 3:44 PM

shit definitely go out with him if he’s a white chef cooking the flavors of the orient or something
too many of my awesome girl friends are on okcupid
and it’s like the quality of male humanity on there is terrible
yeah, seriously
where are the good men
I’m seriously beginning to suspect that the vast majority of men are scumbags
and that the proportion of awesomeness is very skewed towards women
not my fault you went to art school with a bunch of gay dudes
and anime people
hahaha
I keep hearing these stories from my friends about dating
and now I’m like, wow, every man is a disgusting beast
my friend Wendy gets all these messages where it’s like, maybe 60% of them start with “ni hao!” or “konnichi wa!”
this one guy was like, “ni hao! (but not in an offensive way)”
what does that even mean
I feel like maybe awesome women use okc because they feel like they need dating help, when they really don’t, and awesome guys don’t use it because they’re not taught to hate themselves as much
so that’s why there are more scumbag dudes on there the proportions get all fucked up
like maybe if you want a man who wears a fedora stick with okc
yeah I guess there’s less surprise racism
well maybe not true

4:39 PM

I wonder if it’s weird that all I cook at home is asian food
maybe I have a little anxiety about being stereotypical
hahaha
like I’ve eaten rice and noodles every day since I got back home
*and/or
lol
I think I made a grilled cheese once

Thursday, August 15, 2013 11:30 PM

yooooooooo yooooo
I’m drusup bro I’m drunk as fuckkk
I can’t believe you know Clare! well I do believe that
that’s awesome she went to my college, and we’re internet buds
I’m just like psyched about these asian people connects
she asked me for advice once, because our school is so damn white
and I was like, embrace the abject. fuck with people. that’s how you maintain your sanity
endless hilarity
yeah, boys are so not worth the mental energy we put into them
I know tho
when i like a str8 guy it’s like going through the 5 stages of grief
1. denial: I can’t believe I like this dude How could I let this happen?
2. anger: Why do you have to be a man? Why are you such a fucking asshole
3. bargaining: I feel like I could be more ok with this if you’d go down on me more. Yeah. Ok.
4. depression: why you gotta uphold the patriarchy like that tho? I can’t deal with this
5. acceptance: ok fine let’s bone.
also white boys
let’s be honest
and it’s like, why is my body like this. why does it crave the d

Saturday, August 17, 2013 5:03 PM

I think I’m going to organize these by subject, not by person. I don’t know! I don’t know. I think Jim wants them by person though. Hmmmmmmm. Get in the zone brosephine. What’s keeping me from writing? Am I afraid that this is just cashing in on the zeitgeist, and I’m using my identity to assume a kind of authority that I am not entitled to? I mean, no, I’m still using interviews… it’s not like I’m coming down from Asian People Heaven to be like, THIS IS LAW YOU ARE BAD!! Is that what I want to say though

Monday, August 26, 2013 5:40 PM

My major critique of the story was the lack of background on what was happening with the protests, and why the town was divided as it was. Racism is usually easy to demarcate – whites against _____ – but I would love for you to complicate it more with the shades of gray that you are so good at in the rest of the story. The way you exceptionalize Joe and make him the focal point of the attention in the story – not your attention, but the town’s – is pretty problematic, and I’d like for the revised story to address the reasons why the town fixated on him, and not on the many other students in the protests.

Thursday, August 29, 2013 9:50 AM

I don’t know why anyone is terrible
that is a mystery
do you really think anyone wakes up in the morning and plans to be racist tho
yeah
if I’m feeling feisty I usually stop and ask, why did you say that
I often don’t though
I feel like we deserve some kind of explanation lol
yea
but I do love calling them out
drinking the kool-aid and they don’t even know what flavor it is

Sunday, September 1, 2013 6:21 PM

I definitely get where you’re coming from. While I made a huge effort to reach out to fellow QPOC at my LAC, the sheer whiteness of it all made me miserable most of the time. Do what won’t drive you off a cliff, bb girl.

ya, I had a lot of friends who went through nervous breakdowns bc my school didn’t make it easy for 1st gen or working class college kids to cope with the extremely privileged bubble they had going on

Friday, September 6, 2013 7:02 PM

hmmm
as long as you are an equal opportunity racial identifier, I think it’s ok
you know what I mean?
or you can do as zadie smith did in NW and identify all the white people and not the rest
you have a lot of freedom here
there’s like no convention of racial identifiers in literature
I think the racist ways to do it would be to only id the coloreds and also to compare their skin tones to an edible item
speaking of which, I made a yummy dinner tonight!

Sunday, September 8, 2013 4:18 PM

whitewashed asian restaurant
asian restaurants owned by white people
white-owned ethnic restaurants
“I want to elevate food”
elevates cuisine
pinoy
restaurant
brooklyn, ny asian fusion
asian

4:31 PM

oh noooo there’s a new white people viet restaurant opening in new orleans
called MoPho
sigh
sigh sigh sigh sigh
noodle and pie
mopho
514 city park ave
hawker bar nyc

Monday, September 9, 2013 11:38 AM

Hi Kjerstin,

Here’s the piece with a few more edits. I think that really tough paragraph (I think it’s 8?) could probably just go entirely, now that I’m looking at it with fresh eyes.

As for your suggestion regarding bringing out the “whys” a bit more, do you have any specific places where you’d want to see that? I added a few hints here and there, so if it’s still not clear enough please let me know! The little section near the end about nostalgia and what it means to trap a culture (or even a person) really applies to feminist ideas too – kind of relating subordinating a culture to a fixed point reflects how the agency of women at large tends to be subsumed under male interests. Should I spell it out, though? I kept the language there vague so that the readers could have an “Aha!” moment with it.

Thanks!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 10:49 AM

By divorcing art from “real life,” we – by defining art as “this,” but not “that” – we are ignoring the presence of a narrative that governs our lives participating in a fantasy that disallows us from seeing the constructedness of our political, personal and personal narratives.

Thus, the question of what is or is not art is a fallacy. It implies that there are things that are untouchable vis-a-vis their “artfulness,” and so they can never occupy the extremely mutable space of the creative object. For example, our conversation in class about the difference between Walmart and the art museum perpetuates that misconception. If Walmart cannot ever be that space wherein art may take place, then we are declaring it a “safe zone” for capitalism, for heartlessness, for the things that art tends to rub up against. On the other side of the coin, if art museums are solely meant as a space wherein appreciation may take place, we are ignoring the fact of their complicity with those same things.

Both of these institutions benefit immensely from these fantasies, which preserve their respective standings within apparently opposing spheres.

In the literary world, the question of what constitutes the “literary” is also fraught with political implications. More often than not, the “genre” books that are maligned by literary personages and critics are written by people who have been traditionally stopped at the gates of that club: women, LGBT writers, working class writers and uneducated white women. In this sphere also, it is important to consider who benefits from a definition of art. Writers like Sapphire, Octavia Butler, Stephanie Meyer, and many more whose names we don’t know are not considered to be “literary” writers because they lack the qualities that have been designed to exclude them.

Instead, the crowns and the glory generally go toward a certain demographic for whom this world was created in the first place.

In addition, the writers who have to channel their energies toward their daily bread – the aforementioned copywriters, et al. – are scoffed at for prostituting their work and soiling the craft. The borders between what may constitute art and what may not function to preserve hegemonic systems of oppression. The cautious definition of art put forward by George Dickie, which purports that art is “human-made and commented upon,” ignored the fact that people may have complicated reasons for not commenting upon a work. To paraphrase a koan spoken in class, if a tree’s existence is inconvenient, does it really exist to the onlooker?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 2:39 PM

dude I am trollbaiting some white dude on fb why
take the internets away from me
he’s on this girl’s status update about miss saigon
like instead of being like, “yea oppression is fucked up” he’s all, why u gotta use “womyn” it’s so ridiculous
like thanx for yr manpinion I guess
“not to be a sexist” but I’m gonna power through anyway
u mad bro
hahahahaha what a stupid asshole
talking like no word’s spelling has ever been changed for any reason in the history of language
you have a good point. no word’s spelling has ever been changed for any reason in the history of language, so why should those damn “womyn” or “blaques” get to do it? especially when the change fails to garner the recognition of a privileged person lol
and I guess nothing we do has a point if some white jerkoff from iowa doesn’t recognize it as having one
w/e
I love fucking with people
white man dismisses anti-oppressive terminology as “silly” and unnecessary news at 11
why would it ever be ok to write, “when did race come into this” on a status about how miss saigon is oppressive

3:57 PM

white tears gif
white tears gif
white tears
white men
no time for bullshit
that is more productive to me
fucking people always being like, “please educate me” and then, “no stop you’re educating too hard”
hahahahhaa
I don’t want to be a total ass all over my friend’s status, but there is a wealth of gifs out there christine
what a time to be alive
I don’t know why I choose to engage idiots on the internet
but I guess if we didn’t have that then we’d actually have to get work done
also I love how white guys always end up being like, I agree with those guys. and have zero understanding of what that implies
hmmmm yeah, I wonder why all the white dudes in the convo are teaming up

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 11:22 AM

I love when white guys point to other white guys like, “I agree with this guy” and have no idea what that implies
0 self-awareness
it’s all just ridiculous, fb is such a farce of human interaction
bros love making shit all about them
I’m so sick of these same conversations, over and over and over again
tbh that’s why I’m pretty adamant about keeping things on a flippant level
I can’t invest the emotional energy in this stuff lol
because I receive nothing for it
like, maybe pay me to educate you and I will
you know I think maybe 10% of my attraction to chris is based on the fact that I can be a dominant qwoc in a relationship with a swm
10% of it is some crazy reparations shit lol

Sunday, September 22, 2013 2:41 PM

I’m tiptoeing into talking about it with my students, but it’s a tough call to make when my class isn’t necessarily a sociology course. They seemed interested in discussing it when we covered the “Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit” essay by ?uestlove, so I think it’d go over well. I think a lot of people just aren’t educated in race talk, and I do want to change that (esp. since my course is a freshman one). I’m just going to make my students read a lot of things about race issues and see what happens!

4:52 PM

“black is a woman’s color” pronouns

9:12 PM

bell hooks / Gloria Watkins – author, feminist, social activist, foundational to the modern studies of race, class, and gender

9:26 PM

Exigence – the sense that something must be communicated

– help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

– complaint letter : “circumstances that necessitate communication

– a problem, a defect, a challenge IRL that needs to be addressed”

– social

– political

– personal: racism, ableism, sexism, classism: national discourse over war, gun control debate: a crush, a misunderstanding

– economic: I need financial aid, calling to fix a wrongful charge

– exigence helps us determine purpose in our own writing and in others’ writing

Bearing witness

– basic definition: giving testimony in court of law

– on the personal level, it means giving voice to your experiences

– we saw with Primo Levi last week

– what happens when we don’t tell our stories?

Thursday, October 3, 2013 7:04 PM

literary fiction doesn’t have a genre like white people don’t have a race
I think I’m going to write about… how white-based mfa programs stifle the creativity of everybody in them

Monday, October 7, 2013 1:41 PM

chris did you just lecture my aunt on vietnamese history

Saturday, October 12, 2013 9:27 AM

I sympathize with her for sure. but when you have privileged white people of the first world chanting, “i am malala” while appropriating the black power fist gesture on 20/20, I think it’s reasonable to think that there might be a dissonance in the girl’s intentions and the ways in which she is becoming a cause passif among white liberals.
malala
malala marxist-leninist
I agree that she absolutely has suffered too much, and I agree that she’s brave. she doesn’t deserve to become a watered-down version of herself, which is where I see this all going if she continues to work within the western pr machine.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 10:20 AM

when I suggest a character could be 2nd gen caribbean (i.e. not yt), every1 at the table protests that “race doesn’t matter” #mfaproblems
all ambiguous characters are white until proven brown #mfaproblems
a “conjure woman” character has dreadlocks and lives in the tropics but some insist that “she could be irish” #mfaproblems
“some readers might be alienated” if a latina character calls her grandmother “abuela” #mfaproblems

10:38 AM

but srsly last night’s workshop was excruciating
everyone was critiquing this one story as if the protag was a middle-class white woman and I was like maybe she’s caribbean? then all of a sudden race doesn’t matter
yea, the abuela thing happened
we can’t talk about race if the race of a character isn’t white
and then they kept throwing around words like “ethnic” and “tribal” and “nonwhite”
and I was like nooooooooooooo
yeah, the protag also gets assaulted in the story
and these two swm in my class were like, “did it bother anyone else that these guys did XYZ? it seems really impractical” some pirates orally assaulted her
like are you kidding me
RIGHT???
the teacher shuts me down constantly in this class but she didn’t have anything to say to that
anyway
so I’m having one-on-one conferences with my students
and I told this one girl who was worried about her grammar that the rules are made up and enforced by white supremacists and she looked at me like O___O
but she laaaughed
I tell my students all the time that it’s not a matter of grammar being correct or incorrect, but a matter of being understood by people who are already hostile to understanding you