Hot and Cold: Month of July 2016

ririwilliams

Art by Jeff Dekal. (Marvel Comics)


After last week’s post about #BlackLivesMatter, we are back to regularly-scheduled programming for July’s “Hot and Cold” roundup. I was aiming for this to be a weekly series before, but because of end-of-school shit and my summer internship, I just didn’t have time to write something that regularly. Also, it’s summer and hot as balls. Don’t blame a bitch for wanting to just Netflix and chill (literally).

The month of July proved to be eventful, for better or for worse, so read ahead for the awesome news and then … for humanity to disappoint you. What else is new?

HOT

  1. Superhero news

I don’t even care about superhero shit and I’m still pumped about all the developments happening in the Marvel universe. First, Time magazine announced that a black teenage girl is set to take over the role of Iron Man from Tony Stark in the comic-book event series “Civil War II.” Riri Williams, a 15-year-old science genius who enrolls in MIT, gets Stark’s attention after building her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room.

On the flip side though, Cameron Glover pointed out that none of the writers who created Riri were black women, a demographic that’s consistently kept out of the comic world even though they  are often huge fans of it. It’s an interesting take on something that is seemingly a slam dunk, so check out the full Ebony article for more.

The second noteworthy superhero news is that a teaser for Netflix’s upcoming “Luke Cage” premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, and the series will debut on Sept. 30., making it Marvel’s first black superhero film or series. For many such as Isaac Rouse, an African-American writer, this is a Big Fucking Deal, especially in the wake of recent police shootings of black individuals:

“Cage deals with the same profiling and negative connotations of being a black man in America, the same any African American has the misgivings to deal with, and yet he still does good. … Luke Cage can be that symbolic hero for young black men and women during these scary times in the African American community.” (Huffington Post)

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Mike Colter stars as the titular character in “Luke Cage”

2. Leslie Jones

I wasn’t sure if I was going to put this in the “COLD” or “HOT” category at first (I’m sure you were losing sleep over this too!), but I decided instead of focusing on the assholes who threw racist slurs at Leslie Jones (although Head Asshole has since been banned from Twitter), I wanted to let Leslie’s greatness be the bigger emphasis.

Even if you’re like me and haven’t seen the new Ghostbusters movie yet, it’s still important to acknowledge how much this film will mean to countless girls and how much Leslie has done to raise awareness for double standards some women face in Hollywood. She’s not only been subjected to unfair treatment from Internet trolls, but even from fashion designers who aren’t willing to dress her. Kudos to Christian Siriano for reaching out and designing her a kick-ass dress to wear at the premiere:

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Michael Tran/FilmMagic

FYI: The mark of a truly talented designer is the ability to make beautiful clothes for everyone, not just size 2 models.

3. Gilmore Girls trailer

We’ve known about the “Gilmore Girls” Netflix revival for a while, but it wasn’t until July 27 that the trailer for the upcoming “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” premiered online.

I started watching the original series in middle school, so references to The Clash and “Saved by the Bell,” while appreciated, weren’t that current to my 12-year-old self. Hearing them discuss Amy Schumer and whether or not Jon Oliver would find Lorelai hot (he does, in case anyone’s wondering) is both extremely weird and incredibly awesome. I can’t wait for Nov. 25. Also, I wonder if the girls love Beyoncé as much as the rest of the world. They have to, right? For goodness sake, Rory went to Yale! #importantquestions

4. Kimye vs. Taylor Swift

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I saved the best and pettiest for last, obviously. By now, everyone and their mother have heard about the beef between Kimye (can Merriam-Webster put that in the dictionary already?) and Taylor Swift. I feel like words such as “beef” or “feud” don’t truly capture the magnitude of this whole situation, so instead, why not take the title of almost any famous apocalypse movie and taylor (get it?) it to fit this debacle?

For example:

“This Is the End (for Taylor Swift’s career)”

“Terminator 2: Judgment Tay”

“Tay of the Dead”

“These Final Hours (of Taylor’s career)” (okay, that one is a bit repetitive).

You get my point.

To be honest, I don’t really like the recent trend of celebrating pettiness online. But, considering how Taylor has made such a Big Production of acting like the victim, it’s only fair to point out that it’s a bit shady she’d be fine with “I think that me and Taylor might still have sex” in Kanye’s song “Famous,” but object to the line calling her a bitch, and give a whole Grammy speech about him undercutting her fame.

Also, to be clear, I don’t have a stake in this drama. Yes, Kanye is a musical genius, but that doesn’t mean I will blindly support him when he does questionable shit like slut shaming Amber Rose. And although I don’t like Taylor’s music and think she was being sketchy in this situation, I’m not praying for her career to end. I’m just sitting back and enjoying this drama, far away from Hollywood. What sandy beaches and margaritas do for the regular vacationer, pop-culture drama (and margaritas) does for me.

¿NOT SURE WHAT TO THINK ?

 

  1. Frank Ocean to “release” new album … sure … 

Sure, Frank, you weren’t the source of my trust issues but you definitely didn’t help them either. I’m tired of getting my hopes up, only to have you shatter my dreams. So while I’m praying to Jesus, Buddha, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and The Holy Trinity (Bey, Nicki and Rihanna, obviously) that you will come through and release “Boys Don’t Cry” tomorrow like you say you will, I feel like there is a definite chance this will turn out to be another round of “Rachel Always Cry (Feat. Frank Ocean’s false promises).”  

  1. “The Great Wall” trailer

I have very, very conflicted thoughts on this upcoming film, and may write more about this later. But for now, all I can say is, even though it is worrisome that a film related to Chinese history stars a white guy, there are many famous Chinese actors in it and the director is Chinese. Plus, a lot of the backlash has been from Asians Americans as opposed to Chinese people in China. It’s a complicated issue and I don’t know exactly where I stand yet.

COLD

  1. Shootings across the nation

There’s nothing I can really say that hasn’t already been said. #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackLivesWillAlwaysMatter. Remember Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and remember Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd and countless others. 

There are many, many things we can do to help the cause, and there are many things I know I can do better. Here are just a few suggestions:

 

So that’s it for July! For people who stumbled upon this blog while looking for hot-pot recipes, my bad. This is probably less exciting.

But if there’s someone who did read the post, I have some questions: What is something that happened in July that I missed? What other things can we do to raise awareness about police brutality and support #BlackLivesMatter?

See you in the next post!


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Why Asian Americans Should Support #BlackLivesMatter

One night about a week ago, I decided on a whim to go to Wegmans. It was late, but I didn’t know when I would have time to shop for groceries. After exiting the parking lot, with my bags of spoils in the trunk of my car, I turned on the radio to listen to one of those adult contemporary hit stations. Not my usual jam, but it did the job. As I sang along passionately (albeit very off-key) to some ballad or other, I saw, in the rear-view mirror, flashing blue and red lights.

Oh shitttttt, I thought to myself. Was I speeding? Or maybe I was swerving a little and he thought I was drunk? Perhaps he saw me gesturing wildly with my hands and assumed I was insane?

Then it hit me.

Ohhh, my headlights aren’t on. Immediately I turned them on, but the damage was done. I pulled over on the side of the road, put the gear to park and started tapping nervously on my steering wheel.

The officer took his sweet time to walk to my car door, and informed me that yes indeed, I was driving without my headlights on. I gave him my license and he went back to his car. Within five minutes, he returned and handed back the license, then told me in a jovial tone that he would let me off with a warning but in the future I should remember to have my lights on at night.

My first emotion was obviously relief. Thank goodness I didn’t get a ticket. My money should be reserved for useful things like grocery shopping at 10 p.m. and buying McDonald’s fries!

But my second thought was, I wonder how that exchange would have gone if I didn’t look like, well, me? Maybe the officer is a fair person all-around, but maybe not. Would he have been as cordial as he was with me if I weren’t a tiny, Asian girl, and instead a 6-feet-tall Black man or woman? Would he have felt threatened? Would he have shot me while I was reaching for my license and registration?

Those have been the thoughts ruminating in my head recently, as we mourn the loss of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and as we remember Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and countless other Black Americans.

I don’t think that just because I’m a woman of color, I am obligated to talk about race-related issues. Why can’t white people be forced to discuss race? They’re the ones who colonized half the world.

But I sometimes forget that not all minorities experience racism the same way and we have different struggles. As a Chinese woman, I’ve been called a ‘chink,’ I commonly see sexualized and stereotypical images of Asian women on the screen and I have to live with the fact that America calls itself a cultural melting pot yet once barred Chinese people from entering its shores.

And as a minority, it can be exhausting to talk about race. It is frustrating to hear people deny that racism still exists in 2016 or that reverse racism against white people is a problem. It is frustrating to experience discrimination firsthand, but then be told that my experiences are invalid, that I’m overreacting or too focused on race.

But as an Asian American, I do not have to deal with police brutality. I’ve never had to worry about wearing a hoodie in public and being seen as a gangster or a thug. I’ve never had people feel threatened by me for just walking around. I don’t ever have to panic that even if I comply with orders, I can still be killed.

I wouldn’t have to worry that if I reach in my pocket to retrieve my ID, a police officer would assume I was grabbing for my gun and shoot me multiple times. I wouldn’t have to fear that other police officers would leave me to die of my injuries while consoling the officer who had shot me instead.

My headlight “incident” goes to show that if I were to ever find myself at a police station for some reason, it would be highly likely that I would be treated to a cup of warm coffee, a jacket draped over my shoulders and an officer calling me “sweetie” to console me.

And that’s why as an Asian-American woman, I feel like I need to discuss the recent shootings. I am still privileged in a way that black people in the United States are not, even if I am also a minority.

To not acknowledge that privilege, to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in the world, to act that because I am a fellow person of color I get a free pass on discussing racial matters, is to do what many white people do and be ignorant. It means I am not acknowledging that there is a deep-rooted issue in our justice system and our society in general, where Latinx, black and dark-skinned individuals, especially those in LGBTQ communities, are unfairly targeted for their appearances and identities.

If it seems I’m sharing this opinion too late (and I probably am), it’s because I’ve held out on discussing this issue on the blog on purpose. I thought it was a strange platform to talk about police brutality, but then I realized, it’s actually not. This is a place where I share my thoughts on hip-hop and rap, genres created and dominated by African Americans. And I love hip-hop and R&B, and I love rap. It gives me joy to dissect Kendrick lyrics, to talk to anyone who will listen about the genius of Kanye West and to discuss underrated artists such as Vince Staples and Kali Uchis.

But the songs I listen to often talk about very, very real things: America’s anti-blackness, the degradation of black women, the history of this country being built on slave labor. What kind of person would I be if I listened and rapped mumbled along to these songs, yet refuse to acknowledge it when the contents of these tracks manifest themselves in real life?

It would mean I am the type of person who only cares about black people when they’re entertaining me, but when they are suffering and need support, it is no longer convenient for me. It would mean I benefit from blackness while giving nothing back to it. It would mean that while I lambaste Iggy Azalea for exploiting slavery in her lyrics while ignoring black issues, I am stooping to her level.

Sure, I am a woman of color, but that is not a valid excuse. “I suffer from racism too” is not a valid excuse. Asian Americans who face discrimination can still contribute to anti-blackness. We do it by making black jokes, touting #AllLivesMatter instead of #BlackLivesMatter and by refusing to discuss race. As Asians, we can still contribute to ignorance toward black issues in the United States. I know I’ve done things in the past, and may unknowingly continue to do things, that contribute to it.

But as Asians, we can do our part to support #BlackLivesMatter and raise awareness of police brutality and anti-blackness in this country. We can start conversations in our families about race and discrimination toward black people. We can donate to funds supporting the family of victims of senseless, race-fueled shootings. We can educate ourselves about so-called “black on black” crime, #AllLivesMatter and privilege. We can apologize and correct ourselves when we say or do hurtful things. We can do better.

Links:

Video: “‘But What About Black On Black Crime?’ #AltonSterling”

https://lettersforblacklives.com: How to explain #BlackLivesMatter to parents, relatives from different cultures

Blacklivesmatter.com: Find out info about how to donate, where your local branch is, etc.

Follow: @deray, @iJesseWiliams, @ShaunKing, @Nettaaaaaaaa & many more


P.S. Although I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who reads my own blog (typical), but if you’re here: 1) Thanks! 2) Let me know of  links or things I can add to be more inclusive!