You didn’t think we’d forgotten recommended reading for the week, did you? Trust us, in a week this action-packed, there’s a lot to talk about. As always, please drop your favourites in the comments, and tell us about the reading that’s been tickling your fancy lately.
‘An Open Letter to the Creators of Disney’s Live-Action Feature Film ‘The Legend of Mulan’‘ (Angry Asian Man)
Asian-Americans are (rightly) furious at the casting decisions behind Disney’s remake of Mulan, an animated classic made remarkable by featuring one of the few Disney heroines who isn’t white. An empowering story about a Chinese girl has been turned into a creepy mess with a much older white lead, and some seriously sloppy writing.
I am deeply disturbed that a remake of the beloved Disney classic rejects the cultural consciousness of its predecessor by featuring a white male lead, once again perpetuating the myth that cultural stories are not worth telling without a western lens or star. Instead of seizing the opportunity to highlight a tenacious, complex female warrior, this remake diminishes her agency. But what I find equally troubling is the fact that Disney plans to cast a 16-17 year old established Chinese actress as Mulan, and will not be casting an Asian American.
‘Voices from The Front Lines in Standing Rock V.2: Alayna Eagle Shield and Educating a New Generation of Revolutionaries‘ (Indian Country Today Media Network)
On Sunday, an appeals court determined against a permanent injunction on construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in ecological and culturally sensitive areas. While the Standing Rock Sioux continue to fight, waiting for a determination from the Army Corps of Engineers, life at the prayer camps goes on. One activist talks about the importance of preserving the Lakota language and helping her community find its spirit.
I full-heartedly believe that’s exactly what our people are doing: searching for their spirits. This is because for 500 years we’ve been told that our ways and our beliefs are that of the devil, so we’ve began to believe that. Our people search for their spirit subconsciously wherever they can, in a bar, in a bad relationship, in gang, anywhere they can. What they’re really looking for is that piece of them that’s their true connection to the Creator, our languages and cultural ways of life.
‘The Bullying Anti-Asian Racism of Fox News’ ‘Watters World’‘ (The New Yorker)
In a now notorious segment on Fox News, a television host filed a bizarre, racist, stereotype-laden ‘report’ ostensibly exploring debate reactions in Chinatown, but really just belittling Chinese-Americans. If you’re not Asian-American and you wonder what it felt like to watch, wonder no more.
But the other part is a Chinese-American woman who viscerally feels the heat of humiliation as Watters attempts to grind on the street with two Asian-American women while the screen inexplicably cuts to clips of Japanese schoolgirls dancing in pigtails and skimpy uniforms; who feels inward embarrassment when subtitles are inserted for an Asian Hillary supporter who speaks accented but perfectly intelligible English; whose stomach involuntarily drops when Watters harangues an elderly woman who clearly understands little English but is too timid or polite to walk away from an aggressive white man yelling about “Trump beating up on China.”
‘Saving Conservatism From Trump’s GOP‘ (The Atlantic)
An absolutely fascinating profile of Avik Roy, the Indian-American man who wants to salvage the Republican party before it melts into the sea. Is American conservatism ready to listen, though?
Of the various explanations that have been advanced in such quarters to explain Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP, Roy’s may be the most explosive. Although he was originally drawn to the party for its emphasis on economic freedom and self-reliance, he now believes that a substantial portion of Republicans were never motivated by those ideas. Rather than a conservative party that happens to incorporate cultural grievances, today’s GOP is, in his view, a vehicle for the racial resentment, nationalism, and nostalgia of older white voters. The element of the party that he once dismissed as a fringe, in other words, now seems to form its core.
‘In India, a Revolution of the Untouchables‘ (Pacific Standard)
Members of the Dalit community have been fighting for social justice for decades, but could this be the moment for bringing about a social sea change? These activists certainly hope so.
The Una affair has forced some questions into the mainstream. How long can India ignore the exclusion, discrimination, and human rights violations propagated by the centuries-old caste system? The seeds of Una were planted earlier in the year, in January, when Rohith Vemula, a Ph.D. student at the University of Hyderabad, committed suicide after facing caste discrimination in campus. His last words, “My birth is my fatal accident,” inflamed the conscience of a nation.
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