This may be the best 10 minutes of TV I’ve seen in a while.
This may be the best 10 minutes of TV I’ve seen in a while.
Dear Fellow Asian Women,
I’ll throw you this disclaimer, knowing it’s really not necessary, but it feels important to acknowledge anyway- despite being 5/8ths (yeah, I broke it down like that) Filipino – a group of Asian/Pacific Islanders with Spanish, Malay, Chinese, and our own island blood and having my own internalized shit about being an “Asian Woman”– I need to level with you.
What are we doing?! Why or how do we continue to fuck with dudes, systems and ideologies that keep perpetuating the same stereotypes about us being submissive/dragon ladies/tiger moms?
There’s really two critiques going on here, so I’m not going to fault you completely, as you’re not 100% complicit in this, but we have ownership over a good portion of what’s up here.
Backstory Pt. 1
Today I got involved in a random Facebook discussion – somehow between the 8000 other things I had to do at work and a day where I openly cried in the office at three different points in time (me crying at work is not totally foreign, it usually happens somewhere behind a closed door, not in the middle of the front reception area, oops) – that was sparked by this quote:
Three records into his career, Drake still seems invested in our knowing that he’s a better musician than he is a person, which as revelations go was never interesting in the first place. (Via)
The debate quickly sparked into two parallel tracks- one discussing Drake the rapper vs. Drake the person contextualized by both his ability to manipulate the English language so well, and articulate pretty deep emotion through it. The other discussing his misogynistic tendencies- all summed up so well by a very good friend:
“His vocal clarity and emotional clarity are laudable, but I just wish he would push further than emotive description into emotional reckoning. He hates women but lives performing a kind of love/hate of women for men.”
Did you miss that ladies, “He hates women, but lives performing a kind of love/hate of women for men”.
I won’t front. If you look at my text exchanges with my best friend for the last few weeks you’ll see quite a few moments of Drakehating. (I coined the term Kaperhating last night in a text to my boy hating on Colin Kaepernick, it doesn’t have the same ring, but it stays). During the VMAs, Snow Tha Product retweeted a statement so true, I’ve been running with it for weeks.
But………. (and that’s a big but, with all of the elipses possible) as a single woman, hip-hop lover and human being, I’ve been playing Take Care and a leaked version of Nothing Was the Same, when I have the “feels”. The worst part, is that nothing about what he’s actually saying, like the actual content- is designed to make me feel better. It’s mostly shitty shit, about women, including calling out a handful BY NAME. Sample A:
“I taste pain and regret, in your sweat/You’ve been waiting for me, oh ho/I can tell that you been practicing… All those other men were practice, they were practice/Yeah, for me…”
That don’t make me feel better. Sample B:
"And I love it when your hair still/ Wet cause you just took a shower/ Running on a treadmill and only eating salad/ Sound so smart like you graduated college/ Like you went to Yale but you probably went to Howard”
That’s just not even the full on misogynistic shit, he’s got worse and I still eat it all up. When I am feeling any kind of low, somehow all roads lead to Drizz and all his emoting. It didn’t take this debate for me to realize that. I realized it a long time ago, before my first listen of NWtS, and to echo the above tweet, Drake became my feelings. Certainly not a well-thought out -provocative-boundary pushing-revolutionary-feeling about race/gender/ shit… class even- feeling, as illustrated by the 2000 critiques and criticisms that the internet is brewing right this minute. But, for whatever reason, it sucked me in. Shit, could be why I cried 3 times today.
Though I promise, my Asian sisters- this is not a close reading of Drake’s new album, NWtS does have one more important influence on this letter to you.
Someone in the 50+ comments mentioned the NWtS track From Time Featuring Jhene Aiko. The chorus includes this:
"I love me, I love me enough for the both of us/ That’s why you trust me, I know you been through more than most of us/ So what are you? What are you, what are you so afraid of?/ Darling you, you give but you cannot take love”
Again, this caught my attention the first time I heard it. Backwards, fucked up it actually doesn’t matter that you treat me like shit, because I get it, you don’t know how to receive love BS? That’s some uncessary rationalizing there. And after someone felt the need to make mention of Jhene’s other work in our internet convo, it dawned on me I’d seen her name elsewhere.
Backstory Pt. 2
Somewhere in the random notebook I call a journal that’s covered in SF Giants, SF 49ers, a Viva Obama and an Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack sticker, I started an actual close reading of some reference Drake made in Take Care (the specific reference was actually “You know I want it all and then some, Shout out to Asian girls, let the lights dim some” ).
But it wasn’t just a close reading of Drake, it was also a critique of one of our other favorite women-hating, for men rappers.
At one point in time, (unnecessary disclaimer again) as a coping mechanism, I absolutely and totally created this plan to somehow end up in Brooklyn (I know, I know) and end up engaging in an epic dance off with Donald Glover, wherein we’d fall in comedy love, and make comedy babies (not necessarily the human kind, but just the kind of creations comedy geniuses make when together, again, I know, I know). This was just as I was getting introduced to Donald’s non-Community starring rapper alter-ego, Childish Gambino, whom Jhene has recently been collaborating with.
(Anyone have any feels at all about this inverted Yoko Ono/John Lennon thing going on here???)
Like Drake one can debate Donald Glover the actor/Comedian/person with “Childish Gambino” the rapper, his own relationships with emotive (highly educated) word manipulation and CG the misogynist. In fact, it’s been debated at length already… Links on Links on Links
The problem sisters- is that we, as Asians, have a tendency to bandwagon our public recognition as an Asian people. Bruno Mars. Jeremy Lin. Ichiro Suzuki. Julie Chen, the Asian contestants on Idol. Let’s be real: talented or not, we LOVE our brothers and sisters out their getting theirs. There’s nothing wrong with that, as noted, I love me some Tim Lincecum and his ¼ Filipinoness. I’ll claim him. I’ll claim Bruno sometimes. But we also claim, and cling onto other people who meremly mention us in their work.
Quick Poll: How many of you thought Foxy Brown was ACTUALLY black and Filipino when she rapped about it on that Jay-Z song? Yeah… I thought so. And you loved that joint didn’t you? And you still dance to it like it’s the jam? Shit. I do.
The same can be said when any mildy popular, mildy famous, decent seeming/looking, rapper shouts us out in his songs. I honestly think, at the time I started this whole exploration, in my journal/not journal, your boy Donald’s biggest following was hipster Asian chicks (Truth: I shouldn’t even get started on hipsters and Asian hipsters and race/gender shit, so I won’t but put a pin in that one will ya?).
Sisters, you LOVED, and STILL love your boy Gambino. But then this song came out…
And that, my friends, was my deal breaker. I don’t even want to give time to the lyrics, what is there to say? If I really spent time and took a look at how many times dude has referenced Asian chicks, it would be as long, if not longer than this very post.
What people aren’t talking about (at least not in our circles) is his blatant hate of Black women who rejected him, (though he’s kind of talked about growing up dealing with race here) - or his blatant fetishizing of our lady friends and his overall super uncomfortable love/hate of hating women as my friend so articulately described.
As I mentioned before, you’re not to blame alone. You’re not alone in that so many women still love dudes who profit (financially, psychologically and even physically) off of hating women publicly, and privately (I am intentionally not touching cycles of domestic abuse/violence which clearly mirror this here argument). This kind of love isn’t race specific, but as a segment of the female population with a very specific, and very marred narrative where we’re gendered via the whole, Geisha/Dragon Lady complex, it’s important.
My question, acknowledging that I DO IT TOO- is why are we some of the largest consumers of shit that perpetuates these very stereotypes? And letting fools PROFIT off of it? Why are we okay with the public fetishizing, and even finding ways to profit off of it ourselves? We could certainly ask the same of other groups, but I’m asking you, as my peers.
And what of our public love of non-threatening, albeit often sexist, smart black boys who are just safe enough for us to get caught dating by our potentially racist parents? (Yep. Went there.)
There aren’t a lot of us Asian sisters, being featured on rap albums, and I’m really honestly happy we’re getting ours, but to what end is our appreciation of, and fandom of these people, places, things, actually just keeping us where we’ve always been? How can we evolve from there and still get that check? Still enjoy and appreciate music that isn’t totally terrible, shoot, it’s my jump off of the moment when I’m on my emo tip.
This is just the beginning of the conversation. The follow up questions I have, aren’t just about why we buy into this but also how to separate the rapper’s talents from their words, and non-rap personas, but that’s a debate for all of our internet brethren to hash out.
So dear sisters. I can’t tell you to stop. I just ask that you marinate on it, and ask yourself what you’re doing the next time you catch yourself at a Childish Gambino show, or screaming “Oooohhhhhh!!!” when you hear that dim sum line from Aubrey. I’ve been questioning what I’m up to since I realized I’d listened to Take Care anytime I felt a little low, and will continue to do so through whatever this now publicly shameful thing is I have going on with Nothing Was The Same. Maybe I’ll start playing The Roots again next time I’m sad and maybe I won’t cry publicly next time.
UPDATE: https://myspace.com/discover/trending/2013/09/25/drake-rhymes-about-women Check out this comprehensive list of all the women Aubrey Graham calls out by name.
SUNDAY MORNING DRAW TIME.
See all y’all who slept on my where the party at pandora… See!
No, seriously fuck you. It’s one thing being against racism, which is and always will be idiotic, because blaming or judging someone by a skin colour is simply WRONG.
But it’s completely different thing when you ATTACK people and try to make them feel wrong FOR BEING BORN as you put it nicely ‘white’.
No, FUCK YOU. This campaign is not attacking white people. It is pointing out white people do not see racism because they have white privilege. This ad campaign is not to make white people feel guilty but to make them realize they have an unfair advantage for being born white. Society caters to white people. White people control the government, media, schools, etc.
Fuck you, if you think that me being born with a certain skin colour makes me privileged.
Being born white does give you privilege. We live in a white supremacist society that discriminates against people based on their skin color.
Fuck you, if you think that my life is easier, because of it.
Being born white does give you advantages over PoC. While you may be discriminated against based on class, gender, sexuality, etc. you are not discriminated against for being white.Fuck you, if you think you’re being against racism when you’re clearly judging me not as a human being, but by MY SKIN COLOUR that happens to be white/fair or whatever the fuck you want to call it.
No one is judging you for being white. This ad campaign is telling you to examine your privilege which you desperately need to do. It is not judging you for being white. After this rant we are judging you because you are a racist human being not because you are white.FUCK YOU, if your only reaction to me accomplishing something is ‘you’re lucky because you’re white’. I work hard for what I have and don’t you dare to tell me it’s because of my colouring.
No one is saying you don’t work hard. However you do have an advantage over POC because you are more likely to get jobs, into schools, etc. because you are white. You do have an advantage in a society that privileges white people over POC.FUCK YOU, for ignoring my whole personal history, problems and hardships by non important, or not traumatic/bad enough because I WAS BORN WITH A LIGHT SKIN COLOUR.
You really need to chill the fuck out. No one is ignoring your history or the hardships you face. However, because you are born white you do have an advantage in society. No one is saying you did not have traumatic/bad expereinces because you were born white. All this campaign is saying is you do not see racism because you do not experience it. You do not experience racism for being white.— and most importantly FUCK YOU if you think that it has done anything to make my life easier, because I assure you. IT DIDN’T.
What you’re doing here is still RACISM and I will not sit calmly and let it fly around, so either educate yourselves or stop sprouting bullshit all around the place.
Don’t you dare to make me feel bad because I was born looking like I am.
Don’t you fucking dare.
Racism = power + prejudice. No one is saying your life is a walk in the park because you are white. However, you do have privilege for being white because you do not face discriminated based on your race. You are not discriminated against because you are white. Your life would be harder if you were discriminated against for being white but buddy, you are not. You are not discriminated against for being white. This ad campaign does not discriminated against you and this society does not discriminated against you. Like I said, no one is trying to make you feel bad but you seriously need to shut the fuck up and learn about racism and white privilege. You have a lot of unexamined privileged. So shut the fuck up and educate yourself.
You are an embarrassment to humanity.
White love, American love, still negates truth, requires myth, is predicated on lies. Years after Baldwin, bell hooks reminded us that love and domination are incompatible. Capital L love is built on honesty and equity, requires accountability, and pain and movement and growth. Baldwin wrote, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word ‘love’ here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.” Love requires accountability
White love, American love, still negates truth, requires myth, is predicated on lies. Years after Baldwin, bell hooks reminded us that love and domination are incompatible. Capital L love is built on honesty and equity, requires accountability, and pain and movement and growth. Baldwin wrote, “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word ‘love’ here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
Love requires accountability
Please read this…
And, we’re live.
In order to expand STWTS, I plan to create all new pieces in several cities that address the type of harassment that happens specifically in that area. I’ll sit down with women to interview them and hear their stories of harassment. I’ll then draw their portraits and use them to design new posters, including text that is inspired by their words. Those posters will be wheat pasted in that particular city - allowing women to use their faces and voices to speak out against the exact type harassment that happens to them in their communities.
The goal here is to learn how street harassment looks in different regions, cities, and neighborhoods - and to create new work that reflects the experiences of those particular areas.
I want to go to 6-8 US cities this fall, and possibly 2-3 international cities in the spring.
You can help me do this by backing my Kickstarter campaign, here! The goal is $15,000 and funds will go towards travel expenses, materials, rewards, and filming the project.