Pickles & Privilege

We had these [boot camp] classes we had to go to, taught by drill instructors, and every instructor would tell a joke before he began his class. It would always be a dirty joke usually having to do with prostitutes they had seen in Japan or in other parts of Asia while they were stationed overseas. The attitude of the Asian woman being a doll, a useful toy, or something to play with usually came out in these jokes, and how they were not quite as human as white women. For instance, a real common example was how the instructor would talk about how Asian women’s vaginas weren’t like white women’s, but rather they were slanted, like their eyes. Some guys really believed this shit too. Like when you get overseas afterward, you look for things you remember from these jokes.

An excerpt from an interview with a U.S. serviceman c. 1972 from the book Chinese-American Workers Past and Present (via angrywocunited)

(via fucknofetishization)


"You’re so lucky because you’ve got the body of a Latina but you’re not really Latina, you know?” No I don’t actually since I was born in Mexico to two Mexican parents I thought I was pretty Latina.
"It’s just that you’re well spoken." 
"I danced for 10 years" "Oh can you teach me how to dance to your kind of music?" "…I was trained in classical ballet." "Oh I thought all Spanish girls could dance to like cumbia." No. Just no. Also I’m Latina, not Spanish.
"But I mean you don’t act Mexican.” ???What the actual fuck on that one.
"I’m surprised you speak such good English." I moved to LA at age 5 so no shit I speak English.
"Yeah I loooove Mexican food." *points to Chipotle*
"Mexicans are all rude and obnoxious and I’m so glad I live in the US now" This one was said by a family member so that’s a whole other level
And oh so many more of these awful experiences.
P.S. I didn’t submit a picture of me making the face I usually make at these people but what can I say I just really liked this selfie…


"You’re so lucky because you’ve got the body of a Latina but you’re not really Latina, you know?” No I don’t actually since I was born in Mexico to two Mexican parents I thought I was pretty Latina.

"It’s just that you’re well spoken." 

"I danced for 10 years" "Oh can you teach me how to dance to your kind of music?" "…I was trained in classical ballet." "Oh I thought all Spanish girls could dance to like cumbia." No. Just no. Also I’m Latina, not Spanish.

"But I mean you don’t act Mexican.” ???What the actual fuck on that one.

"I’m surprised you speak such good English." I moved to LA at age 5 so no shit I speak English.

"Yeah I loooove Mexican food." *points to Chipotle*

"Mexicans are all rude and obnoxious and I’m so glad I live in the US now" This one was said by a family member so that’s a whole other level

And oh so many more of these awful experiences.

P.S. I didn’t submit a picture of me making the face I usually make at these people but what can I say I just really liked this selfie…

(via fucknofetishization)





The Violent Xenophobic Racism in Ireland

At 9pm last Tuesday, 44-year-old Chinese doctor, Wu Youzhong, went to investigate the sound of breaking glass outside his home in Coleraine, County Londonderry, in Ireland. When he arrived at his front door, he saw that the window had been smashed. An intruder then attacked him so violently that he had to be admitted to hospital for several days, and required consultation from an eye specialist. Dr Wu’s wife, Luo Ruoyin, said, “I heard he was just screaming in pain and I was scared. He was just holding his head and covering his eyes and blood was just running down everywhere.” The police are treating the attack as racially motivated; the couple, who have a two-year-old daughter, are reported to be intending to move away from the area.

The Chinese community in Ireland has long been a target of racial discrimination. Anna Lo, an Alliance Party politician born in Hong Kong who was elected to the Ireland Assembly in 2007, was the first politician from an ethnic minority at national level in Ireland, as well as the first East Asian to be elected anywhere in Britain. Her campaign was dogged by violent racism – including death threats – to the extent that she had to carry a panic alarm as a precaution. One far-Right website published pornographic images of Chinese women, alongside derogatory references to Anna Lo. “People from ethnic minorities are very frightened,” she said. “I have never seen ethnic minorities so fearful in Ireland.”

Read More: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jakewallissimons/100181659/sectarian-hatred-is-being-overtaken-by-xenophobic-racism-in-northern-ireland/

the crumbling myth of white supremacy. white supremacy is violent. white supremacy is destructive. white supremacy is pervasive. white supremacy kills.

never read the fucking comments

For all the Irish folks always crying about how Irish people were  ~*~*~ALSO OPPRESSED~*~*~

(via freshest-tittymilk)


erasure of Asian people and characters is very deep rooted in American media and goes all the way back to conception—don’t let it persist!

(Source: shoorm, via thisiswhiteprivilege)




A mini documentary on sex trafficking of Native women, with particular focus on Minnesota (Native women & girls are frequently sold on the shipping boats that travel around the Lakes, and have been for decades).

"People don’t see Native American women as humans. They see them as punching bags. Or something novel, like a new toy—it’s fun at first, but afterwards you throw it away." —Sarah El Fakahany, Sexual Assault Advocate at Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center

This is very sad, I didn’t know that the Native American women and girls were part of sex trade and prostitution.

it is a very big problem, much bigger than many people realize or want to admit, even among Native communities. if you go to a truck stop anywhere near tribal communities late at night, you will see young Native girls who have been trafficked. Minnesota, Arizona, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Oregon, & Washington are particularly bad. here’s some more resources on sex trafficking of Native women:





I admit, I don’t know Cho that well, so I am glad there are other readings to be had!

And if he is just calling it out simply because he’s tired of it and he feels comfortable doing so even on his own films now, I think that’s fantastic. There’s certainly plenty for him to be calling out.

Heh. Well, I don’t know John Cho either. But he has talked about race & representation before* (and not in a ‘we’re all human, it doesn’t matter’ way), so it’s not completely ‘out of character’ for him to bring it up. I think it probably would be easier on him if he didn’t say anything, but I’m glad he does.

*Re Harold & Kumar (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHEkLBZI1IM 4:07 mark): If you have a Korean and an Indian guy as your leads, you must address race at some point in the movie. You must, because the audience is noting it, really. The other thing is, I think, comedy at its best, treads in taboo waters a little bit. It has to have that transgressive quality to it, and race is the biggest taboo in America. I mean, people are very reluctant to talk about race and yet when you do jokes about race, uh, that work, people are very happy to release tension and laugh about it. But it has been interesting. I’ll make an observation. During the first tour for the first movie, we were talking about race all the time with journalists. It was almost like a process— looking back, the first movie was more concerned with race, but we talked about it so much, I felt that it was in a way…a way of justifying our presence in a motion picture.

And from an interview in 2009 http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/090703/article.asp?parentID=110145&gt:

JC: I recall from the Harold and Kumar movies is my struggle with the advertisers.

APA: What happened there?

JC: There was all this racial humor in the movie, and the advertising department wanted to say “Starring the Asian guy in American Pie, and the Indian guy from Van Wilder…” and they did go with that, and they submitted that to me for approval, and I said, “I don’t like it.” They asked me why, and I explain it to them, and that was tricky because it’s difficult explaining to my own representatives, why that didn’t jibe with me, because everyone kind of felt like it was keeping in tone with the movie. And I said, “I don’t like it. We’re poking fun at racism in the movie all the time, but it puts the audience on the wrong side of the racism joke.” So they were playing with the wording a little bit in the edits, and they kept coming up with versions to make me happy, but they were essentially the same thing, and I finally said, “you are not going to make me happy. You’re dancing around it, and you’re clearly attached to this idea, and I want you to know that no version of this idea will make me happy. And if you’re afraid that I won’t show up to do promotion because of this bitterness, you can rest assured that that’s not true. I consider promoting a movie part of my duties, and I will show up nevertheless. But you can either use this campaign and know that I’m unhappy, or you can change it and know that I’m happy. That’s it. Stop trying.” And eventually they went with it, and it’s one of those things where I look back and I’ve very proud of the movie, but that’s the thing I remember.

APA: Last question…for Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, Viva La Union recorded a song for the soundtrack with the line, “I want my own Chinese baby” — what’s that about?

JC: When I was thinking about it, I thought of a literal baby. There’s a kind of lack that children fill, that’s just the dark side of being a parent, I think. And there’s an accessory quality to Chinese babies in America, and I just think it’s funny. I just liked it. And you know, I would know people who would fawn over Asian babies more, and it got me to thinking, there’s this belief that Asian babies are really cute, and it got me thinking that our whole race is infantilized to some degree, and it manifests itself in different ways. You infantilize a woman, and she becomes eroticized. You infantilize a man, and he becomes emasculated. You infantilize a baby [laughs] — and it’s possible, it appears that you can infantilize a baby even more. [laughs] The babies need to be cuter than white babies. And it’s just a weird thing that I felt like said something about mainstream America’s relationship to Asians in general. So that’s where it came from.

Also this interview: http://blog.angryasianman.com/2008/04/q-with-john-cho.html

“And yes, I do feel a responsibility, and always have, and it’s been an odd burden for me. Even when I started and no one gave a shit, I was trying to avoid doing roles—and it’s no accident that I’ve never done something with a chop suey accent. It’s no accident that I’ve never played those parts. I strongly believe there are a lot of Asian American actors who think that that’s the price to pay before you get to wherever you’re going. And I take real issue with that. Because you have to maintain integrity from the start, and on a personal level, you have to not do something that’s going to make you sick to your stomach.

But on a political level, how are things supposed to ever change if there’s someone willing to do it? I can tell you now, having worked in the business, that you can gather an army of people to hold picket signs and stand outside the studio, and say, “we destest this portrayal”… but it doesn’t matter if there’s a guy—who they know, a peer—who’s willing to do it, who stands in front of the crew and does the buck-tooth accent. If he or she is willing to do it, it makes the protestors look like extremists. It makes this guy look like the normal guy. Because we all work in the same industry. So the willingness of one actor negates a thousand protestors and a thousand angry letters.”

(So I can see why Butawhiteman Cantbekhan playing Khan would be deeply upsetting to him, even if Cho wasn’t in this movie.)

I love him 1000 times just for flawlessly articulating this racist absurdity in the most succinct and accurate way I’ve ever encountered.

john cho my hero

(Source: funkes, via pisceanmuse)

Anonymous asked: Saw your question on medievalpoc re: Rumplestiltskin. It's a retelling of a fairytale (which is a very, very common thing in childrens' books) that's why it isn't plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking someone else's exact words and passing them off as your own. People can (and frequently do, see: Frozen and umpteen other Disney movies) write their own versions of folktales and fairytales and it's perfectly legit. I think maybe you're misunderstanding what plagiarism is?






Plagiarism isn’t restricted to taking someone else’s exact words only. One can steal a whole idea and phrase it completely differently down to every last word and that will still be plagiarism.

Now, I’m not familiar with all the retellings of children’s books, so don’t hold that against me. I asked her a question specifically because I’m not super into that stuff, so the post seemed weird to me.

I don’t remember ever reading a story that seemed like a copy of another with the names changed. “Frozen” is nothing like the Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen”, and I’ve actually written about that. Literally none of the characters coincide.

And I don’t have a problem with someone using an existing story to create a new one. Kind of like fanfiction? But like I said, I have never read something that was identical to another work only with different character names, and the book description medievalpoc posted sounded exactly like Rumplestiltskin to me. So it seemed really odd, and I said so.

This kind of gets down to the fundamental difference between a fairytale versus what you’re thinking of as a “story” in today’s terms.

I feel like the point you overlooked in MPOC’s response isn’t that you should know all of those different variations… it’s that there are literally thousands of them, probably hundreds under the most common name (Rumplestiltskin). The same is true of Cinderella, Snow White, and most of the other things Disney has used as source material. 

Anyway, with all these versions, which one counts as the original that’s being copied? Whose idea is being taken? Even if we can find the first one that was written down—and be sure it’s not just the first one that survived until today—it would already have been an old story when it was first set down in text, and before that it would have been told and re-told many times, with each teller (and sometimes each individual telling) being different from the others.

In short, the problem in calling this plagiarism or even fan fic is that you’re applying a very modern idea to the ancient practice of storytelling. The very idea that there is an original story, a real story, an official story is something that’s relatively new in the scope of human history. If our ancestors could see us now, they would think fan fiction was normal and everything else about the way we tell stories is weird. Someone owns Superman? Someone owns Mickey Mouse? 

You wonder why we didn’t have a word for “reboot” before computers gave us a term to use for it, and this is why: it never needed a name before.

It was just what happened, once you’d told your story to someone else.

If we’re going to apply a modern term to a fairy tale retelling, “adaptation” really is the best one. The story is being adapted, the same way it would be adapted into a movie or TV show. It’s still prose, but the fairy tale is being adapted into a modern storytelling format.

I agree with everything you’ve said here. I know how fairy tales come about, I know that “the same one” can be observed across cultures, because there are fundamental, universal archetypes at the core of some of them. From the responses I got, it seems that people are focusing on the word “plagiarism” as some legal term. I only meant that I don’t think it’s an interesting work if a writer goes and writes down a well-known story again. I have no problem with adaptations, because they usually change the story enough to have a point: for example, a fairy tale formerly set in a faraway kingdom could be written in modern-day Manhattan, the protagonist would ride the subway, not a donkey, talk to the internet, not birds, etc. That’s fine, even if the plot is essentially the same. But the books in medievalpoc’s post all seem to be traditional versions of Rumpelstiltskin, over and over. What’s the point of that?

As I said, I’m familiar with adaptations, but have never actually encountered a retelling, and I can’t respect one as a work of art. It’s just a copy. It’s fine if a writer does one for practice purposes, same as artists who copy others’ artwork as a training tool. But to go out and get it published? I’d be kinda embarrassed to do that.

I feel like you’re contradicting yourself at this point, because the book that started all this—The Girl Who Spun Gold—is a retelling in a different time and place. The cover’s pretty clear about that.

Although, I also think you might do well to remember the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Or its synopsis. If you boil stories down to a sentence or two, of course they’re going to start to sound identical. There are a lot of books out there that can be summed up as “a child learns to use magic and becomes a wizard”, but they’re not all Harry Potter.

The thing about a retelling is it’s not just the same story written down again, it’s a new telling. I don’t think you fully understand where fairy tales came from if you don’t see that it’s an ongoing process, not something that was completed in the dusty past. The “archetypes” you’re talking about weren’t things waiting in nature to be discovered and captured like pokemon and now that Cinderella and Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin have been caught on paper, that’s it, they’re done. No. The existence of copyright law and our culture of corporate intellectual property has altered the process and changed how we see it, but it’s still going on.

I feel like you’re too focused on specific changes as being necessary/acceptable. Your example of changing the setting… okay, imagine I took a story like Charles Perrault’s Cinderella and just took out certain nouns that referred to the setting and the time period, and then replaced them with modern equivalents from New York.

Is that creative? I don’t think so. It’s just playing Mad Libs with someone else’s text. Yet it fits the description of what you would call an original work. My point isn’t that most displaced re-tellings do this, it’s that we shouldn’t be using “different time and place” as the sole judge of whether a retelling is “original” or not.

Now let’s imagine that I take Charles Perrault’s version of the story of Cinderella as I remember, from childhood storybooks that had various translated/abridged/altered versions of his story, and I decide to tell it anew. The structure of the story is going to be the same, but the words are all going to be mine. And maybe there will be a new angle that occurs to me. Maybe there will be new characters. Disney does this when they adapt fairy tales. I’m sure most people do.

Isn’t that creative? I think it is. If I don’t feel like I have something new to say, if I don’t feel like my re-telling adds something to the story or brings it to a new audience, then I’m not sure why I would publish it, either… but I don’t know how you can look at the covers of books and go, “Clearly these add nothing to the canon.”

Original post for reference.

Huh. This whole conversation is totally counterintuitive to me, because retold and reinterpreted fairy and folk tales have been one of my favorite things existing in literature for most of my life. So much of their value lies in repetition, both symbolically and literally-there is power in telling the same tale repeatedly, just ask any child who asks for the same bedtime story or wants to watch the same exact movie for what seems like the umpteenth time to parents.

What it seems like everyone’s tiptoeing around here is that the version of Rumpelstiltskin I posted is illustrated with art that depicts all the characters as Black.

I mean, seriously. Who sees an illustrated children’s fairy tale book (of which there are quite literally thousands) and thinks PLAGIARISM? Of all frigging possible things? Some grievous and immoral wrong has been committed because someone wrote a fairy tale book?

Can we just for a second think about this in the context of what I talk about all the time, which is the sense of entitlement and racial-cultural ownership of these stories in regard to whiteness? Are we just going to pretend that this isn’t related to the usual fomentation of outrage every single time a character we’ve been conditioned to associate with whiteness is presented to us as a person of color?

Annie, anyone? [extreme racism/slurs]


From the link:


Well then.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s children’s media that causes the biggest outpouring of backlash that I have seen since I started Medievalpoc. It’s also what brings the most people here via search engines.

Books like this exist:


Because this is what the selection of children’s books look like in the US:


And books for Young Adults aren’t much better:


So I’m just gonna post these ^ before anyone chimes in with the classic “but it’s not okay to make a fairy tale from a poc culture white so why is it okay to make Rumpelstiltskin Black?” false equivalency derail. It’s okay because of reality, and reality shows that there is a massive inequality in representation in children’s and YA literature. And films. And just about everything else.

So can we stop skirting around the painfully obvious implication here that someone yelling plagiarism, of all things, because a Black woman is listed as the author of a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin with illustrations of Black characters, might have something to do with Fairy Tales being perceived as a commodity exclusive to whiteness in our culture? Or this is magically unconnected to the whole historical Europe=white issue which is the reason Medievalpoc exists in the first place?

I mean, we can pay as much lip service as we want to the fact that “Frozen” and “The Snow Queen” don’t resemble each other very much at all, but that didn’t stop a bazillion internets from going buck wild over this:


Or an entire “knowyourmeme” page being created about the “Disney Frozen Whitewashing Controversy” (that links back to this blog, for some reason). I’ve already done several interviews just specifically on this topic alone.


Because in America, “fairy tale magic” is seen as “belonging” to whiteness. That is honestly and truly the only way I can see that anyone would react this way to a kid’s book. It’s a pattern I have seen over and over again, and a great deal of the reason I started Medievalpoc is because I am sick and tired of this kind of exclusion, lack of representation, and gatekeeping around something that this important.

This is Fiction Week, and in a lot of ways this might be the most important aspect of what I’m trying to do here. We need to stop and think before we react, and wonder why we react how we do, and what in means in a broader context.