In last week’s monthly digest post, I shared my thoughts on the disturbing rise of Anti-Asian hate. Since I review Japanese media, I think it’s important to make people aware of this. It’s not too surprising since only a very few focused on it in the anime blogging community. Given recent events, I think it’s a good idea to make everyone aware of this so we can fight against hate.
An audio version of this post is now available in Podcast form:
As a second-generation Chinese American, I have dealt with racism quite a lot during my life. This ranges from bullies bullying me and even using racial slurs in some instance and the school doing nothing about it to resolve it to my parents fighting hard to get myself out of special education during grade school, which is mostly because of my race due to speech problems. This of course limited my potential. I won’t go into details since I did so in the previous post.
Regardless, these experiences of racism are what most Asians experiences in the western world. While African Americans face systemic racism that affects them socially and economically at a greater scale, this doesn’t mean that other minorities are unaffected. They are. While Asians enjoy economic success, there are some that treat us as foreigners instead of actual citizens. Therefore, we experience hate and it’s difficult to speak out against it because of this one thing. Yes, the model minority concept, or rather the myth.
The model minority concept is what aids systemic racism. What is it? If a minority group is doing fine, society perceives them as doing well socially and economically, they have no problems. That is all great and all, but systemic racism uses this to divide up minority groups. As a result, minorities can’t fight in solidarity when it comes to social justice issues. Also, this myth makes it difficult for Asians to fight against discrimination, hate, margination, etc. Society will simply perceive this as something trivial and ignore it. After all, some believe that if Asians are doing fine, they shouldn’t complain. I think this notation is wrong.
Besides the model minority myth, the United States has a dark history when it comes to treatment of Asians. This is apparent with the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese people from immigrating to America. There is also the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This is where the United States put Japanese Americans, even those who are born in the United States into concentration camps. It’s because they perceive them as enemies, despite being loyal American citizens.
All these atrocities happen as a result of the Yellow Peril. This is a racist fear that Asians is an existential danger to the western world This of course brought on stereotypes, especially against Asian women. The United States banned them with the passage of the Page Act of 1875. As a result, it created negative stereo types perceiving Asian women as being sexual deviants. These negative stereotypes lead to some to fetishize Asian women and objectify them. This is not only misogynistic; it leads to hate crimes that disproportionately affects Asian women as seen in the latest shootings.
With that in mind, I also want to touch upon fetishizing Asian cultures, especially with Yellow Fever. It’s problematic that it mostly happens to Asian cultures and not others. Sure, it’s cringeworthy to see people become obsessed over Japanese or even Korean culture, when someone wants to become Japanese or Korean. However, they don’t realize that this crosses the line and it’s racist. They are basically fetishizing and objectifying a culture. I think it’s okay to like, enjoy, appreciate what a culture has to offer. This can range from its language, history, pop culture, food, clothing, etc. When one crosses the line when someone wants to become Japanese, Korean, etc., they are fetishizing as culture and/or race, which is racist.
While I have intended to write a whole editorial about this, it went by the wayside. The is one notable example is this YouTube video of a girl who wants to become Japanese. Although it’s cringeworthy, it plays on a bunch of harmful stereotypes of Japanese people that are not true and fetishizes the culture and race. Sure, most people will overlook this and perceives this as flattery. However, it perpetuates harmful stereotypes that leads to hate since they are now objectifying a whole race and culture. This can in tern lead to hate and violence like we saw.
Lastly, I think people need to realize that certain racially charged words and language can hurt leading to hate crimes. While most of the uptick of Anti-Asian hate caused by hateful language used the person who shall not me named, it has been a problem for all minorities. Sure, context matters, but when people use racially charged language, it dehumanizes people and can lead to hate crimes.
On the other hand, society nowadays are too quick to cancel people if they accidentally say, have controversial views or do something that offends someone, I think this is a problem. I am not talking about the cancel culture that conservatives try to make a big deal about that doesn’t exist, but the other half that is harmful since it can ruin someone’s life.
Cancelling people have huge ramifications as he or she won’t be able to make a living. Corporations don’t want to have workers that can hurt their business because a certain group becomes offended, even if the person apologizes or reform themselves. I do not subscribe to the belief that if someone says something that offends someone that they should never be able to hold a job ever again. Humans makes mistakes and may say things that they didn’t mean to. Also, people are free to voice their views, even if they are controversial.
On the other hand, it does not give them the ability to express these ideas without consequence. This can range from other people challenging their views, or even showing them to the door. By canceling people, they aren’t giving the person a chance to reform themselves, change their views, or bring them to our side. It only leads to further radicalization that leads to more hate and violence and further division.
Instead of this, we should educate them and explain why certain language or things are racist or offensive so that they won’t do it again. We should only cancel people as a last resort, only for those who commit egregious actions. By egregious, this means continually harassing someone of a certain race/gender/sexual orientation/etc., inciting violence, or committing crimes against someone.
I think it’s important for people who are fans of Japanese culture and media to acknowledge Anti-Asian racism exists and fight against it. Moreover, people need to realize that they can appreciate any Asian culture without fetishizing it. By acknowledging the harmful effects of the model minority myth that systemically hurts all Asians alike and the challenges we face, we can dismantle it and fight for social justice for all. After all, hate of any type is not welcome in the anime, manga, and related communities.
With that, feel free to discuss what I have covered in the comments. If you are Asian, feel free to share your experiences regarding hate and what you are doing to fight against it. Also, I will link back to any posts in the Anime blogging community speaking out against Anti-Asian hate. I encourage people to link back to this post or share it on social media.
- Being Asian in America and Fandom – Manga Therapy
- Thoughts on Anti-Asian Racism in the US – Ogiue Maniax
- Stop AAPI Hate