Archive for the Appropriation Category

Why Asian Americans Should Care About Native Mascotry

Posted in Appropriation, AUDACITY, For Your Consideration, white ppl booshit with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by Cbruhs
Art by Carrie Grubb

Art by Carrie Grubb

Over the past couple weeks, many Asian Americans who are active online were swept up in the major drama that was #CancelColbert. I’m not saying I’m completely on board with Colbert’s usage of “Ching-Chong” and “Oriental” to illustrate the ridiculous racism of Dan Snyder’s sham foundation (nice try Dan). Nor am I going to debate the contours and pitfalls of satire, or even re-hash the whole Twitter sh*tstorm here, as there’s already been much media a-blitzin and I just CAN’T WITH THAT. Google it.

Rather, I’d like to touch on recent efforts and why I think AAPI peeps should get on board — efforts intended to re-focus online energy and demonstrate solidarity with Native activists by supporting the original issue: changing the Washington R*dsk*ns name (and ending Native mascotry in general). These campaigns have been led by Native activists both online (EONM) and on-the-ground (see: AIM, Oneida Nation) decades before it became part of Colbert Report‘s slate or a blip on the radar of AAPI online activists.

Yes, there are deep shared social, economic, and even cultural histories between Native Americans, First Nations, and Asian folks, especially in the Northwest and Canada, that is not widely known (perhaps we can get into this via a future guest post)…but I believe there are also some immediate and intuitive parallels that should feel familiar to us Asians. Particularly how Native communities continue to be plagued by stereotypical and racist imagery  — and the narratives invoked to justify them.

Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz

Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz

How often have Asian Americans heard variations on the “Relax, I’m Honoring You” theme? From Katy Perry’s shuffling, mish-MESS geisha at the AMAs — to the HIMYM yellowface “homage” to kung fu flicks — to Tao’s dodgy apology about its “happy ending” advertising…to basically every case of yellow fever ever. And that’s just in the last six months!

Every Halloween, there’s geishas and ninjas and Pocahontases, oh my! — a swarm of costumed commodification set loose upon the land to try our last nerve. There’s always that one person at the party playing racial dress-up in a kimono, a feather headbandy thingy, a sombrero, or some other dreadful item (see: Dreadlock. Hats.). It’s a perennially pervasive problem, as reflected in the popular “We’re a Culture, Not a Costume” campaign (and let’s not even get started on music festivals and haute and hipster fashion).


photos for poster

These “costumes” don’t exist in some harmless, aesthetically pleasing vacuum, but are the gateway drag to activating a network of stereotypes and/or acting like a bigoted asshat. The ornamented geisha is just shy of being a submissive, exotic whore. Like the mascot “chief” with colorful feathers is a step away from a drunk savage — as Jacqueline Keeler notes in her powerful Salon piece, “My Life as a Cleveland Indian“:

“Because it’s not just the static image of the mascot that is the problem, be it stoic and noble or a horrific caricature with a feather on top. It is the license it confers others to act out dated stereotypes about us and ignore our real issues — even our humanity. This is particularly noticeable when members of EONM challenge fans, who immediately go from saying, “But we are honoring you,” to, “You’re drunks and on welfare, you should be grateful we are doing this.”

These are just a couple, perhaps more obvious examples of how our bodies, our traditions, our imagery have been similarly filtered through the fun house mirror of White gaze and used to sell products, experiences, and racial fantasies. Our culture reduced to a schtick: something ancient and quaint you can buy in a curio shop or cobble together with a hot glue gun, chopsticks, and a hodge-podge of crap from Party City.

Of course, there are limits around how far we can/should take these parallels between Native and Asian issues and experiences. But in this common understanding of what it feels like to be be reduced to kitsch and caricature, there is the opportunity and necessity to go all in together. Asian Americans, as another relatively small (but fast growing) racial group, have also felt like we were shouting into the wind, laboring to be seen and heard on our own terms — beyond buckteeth and slanted eyes, chopsocky and dragon ladies. We’ve come to appreciate the support and significance of allies, and building community beyond the usual suspects (shameless shoutout to #BuildDontBurn).

The Washington R*dsk*ns, Chief Wahoo, the Atlanta Braves — shouldn’t be viewed as solely a “Native” cause. Because the underlying issue — cultural (mis)appropriation and the lurking racism that props it up — is a shared one. Changing even one Native mascot is a win for AAPIs, because it chips away at the system that supports these stereotyped symbols, and shifts the public’s understanding around what is and what is not acceptable. What is paying respect and what is plain ol’ racism. We can do better and go farther together…and that’s how we’ll win.


Many Thanks to Jackie Keeler and Ethan Keller for reaching out and sharing their stories, as well as those of other Native writers and activists. Please check out their Native-led online activist group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM) and follow them on Twitter.

Reappropriate is aggregating a list of posts and shares that are a part of the #Native and #AAPI solidarity effort around #notyourmascot, #not4sale, and #changethename. Check it out here.

What you can do:

- Sign the 18MR petition calling on Dan Snyder to change the R*dSk*ns name and mascot here.

- Show your support by blogging & tweeting with hashtags #Not4Sale #NotYourMascot and #ChangetheName

- Send an email to Wylliet(at)redskins(dot)com asking them to change the R*dSk*ns team name.

- Add your voice to the mix!: write your own blog post, Op-ed, or sound off in the comments.

JT Takes Over Chinatown

Posted in Appropriation with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2013 by aznheartthrob

FRESHLY back from an amazing Legends of the Summer concert at Candlestick featuring Jay”-”Z and Justin Timberlake, AzN is high as a kite and was looking forward to ANY news, video, audio, hair samples from the new new new King of Pop: JT. Alas, that’s when this video came out:

Since the video was shot at the Yankee Stadium leg of the tour and features NYC Chinatown in all of its Oriental glory, I decided to reserve judgement and allow Cbruhs to comment. What proceeds is a highly edited for content version of our brief email exchange because I didn’t want too many curse words and wanted to minimize the amount of unabashed JT MAN LOVE I show pretty much all the time.

AzN: Check out where the new JT video was filmed. Gonna just tweet it unless you wanted to add something like OH I LIVED AROUND THE CORNER!

Cbruhs: Gotta run some errands but will watch when i get back. UGH I hope this doesnt encourage more douchey hipster kids to come shit in chinatown as their cultural playground. Some of the old chinese-owned bars are now $15 cocktail places where white waitresses wear cheongsams and that NO CHINESE PPL go to or work at. It’s pretty disgusting

AzN: I’d be curious to see what you think. if it’s on a JT video, that means its beyond hipsterdom already.

Cbruhs: eh, looks like he’s in that overpriced hipster club i hate on doyers.  i think the vid still looks ridiculous…maybe most of all b/c “take back the night” is a well-known anti-rape campaign and foundation. i think overall it’s really not as terrible as a lot of other things i’ve seen (I’m looking at YOU dickbrains, DAY ABOVE GROUND) but still eyeroll-inducing b/c it’s the same ol’ exotification of chinatown/ethnic field trip stuff. especially how he walks through this “secret chinese passageway” where he knows everyone. yah right — out asian-ing the asians. at least he didn’t have some swooning asian girl on his arm (like that barftastic Heineken commercial). And to quoth my old roommate Char Char: “Oh GAAAAAWWWDDD”.

AzN: I saw the show last Friday and was disappointed there wasn’t much dancing on JT’s part and the dancing in this video looks pretty weird. Esp with these black and white shirts he keeps insisting on wearing…

Cbruhs: Totally, I thought his dancing was a bit underwhelming in this video too — it’s kinda funny when he’s trying to go all Fred Astaire on the like, 2 brokedown steps of the barbershop. Ha! There’s was probably some over-it Chinese dude waiting off to the side for JT to finish so he could open up shop and start the work day.  His shirt also makes my head hurt. JT’s hair, on the other hand, is laid like Murraaay’s.

AzN: I do however like how most of those storefronts are actually Vietnamese spots. VIETNAMTAKEOVER.

Cbruhs: If they really wanted to make an accurate day-in-the-life-of-doyers vid, they’d show an old dude in a wife beater on a cell phone with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth 86 a mangy chihuahua-sized rat by stomping it into a crack in the wall with his foot. Wearing SHOWER SHOES. true story. I witnessed it with my own eyeballs, as this man came to my rescue right after i saw the rat and screamed and scampered away like the soft ABC that i am. And this video would star Jin tha MC and Eddie Huang and yo gramma. Now that’s “Taking it Back”.

AzN: ANYWAYS, I should probably mention at this point that I already bought tickets to the newly added San Jose show that just came out this morning. OHLOOKISTHATLEVYTRANOVERTHERE?

Buckwheat Groats: “Swag Like a Douchebag Racist”

Posted in Appropriation, AUDACITY, Douchebaggary, fucktards, Hipster Racism, Old white dudes with hawt young Asian chicks, white ppl booshit with tags , , on February 8, 2013 by Cbruhs

I’ve never heard of these assclowns “Buckwheat Groats” — but their video “Swag Like An Asian” definitely takes the cake for most racist, misogynistic, douchebagtastic, Yelloxploitation brick of turd I’ve seen in a hot minute. All in one fell swoop.

I can’t even watch this more than once because the lyrics and images make me wanna choke their fugly mugs with their own fur coats and rip the chunky one’s face pubes out with my bare hands and feed it to him. From the “Asian bitches” sucking on his diamond dick chain, to lines like: “put some nuts on your girl that’s my kung pao chickenhead”, there’s just so much to rage at.

No thanks white boys, y’all ain’t cute and you can keep your back-handed, fetishistic Asian “tribute”. And sorry, but a laundry list of pan-Asian stereotypes does not a good rap video make. The ability to wrap your ignant minds around that is some #SWAG you’ll never have.

And we’ve said it before and we’ll say again: HIPSTER RACISM IS STILL RACISM!!!

via Angry Asian Man

Friday Fuckery: Konichiwerk

Posted in Appropriation, AUDACITY, Friday Fuckery, Hipster Racism, please!, white ppl booshit with tags , , on July 27, 2012 by Cbruhs

It’s no secret that my veneration for drag queens, throwin’ shade, and yes, ovahness — is near unconditional (and borderline obsessive)…but GRRROOOOOAAAANNNNN.

Dude’s like one step away from yellow face. And if we’re getting technical here, there’s many things one could point out about this video (besides Mike Diamond) that aren’t Japanese, one of which is — it’s filmed in CHINATOWN. And can we please just slaughter and bury that chopsocky font please!?! KonichiDON’T.

Thanks Princess Char Char!

Bon 4 de Juillet!

Posted in Appropriation, Awesomeness with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2012 by aznheartthrob

My buddy Tinio posted this on FB today and I don’t see what else can be more fitting on the Fourth of July than a bunch of surburban French kids channeling every action scene from American movies and making this awesome mess. AMERICA FUCK YEA!

Friday Fuckery: Hipster Racism & Lucky 8′s China House

Posted in Appropriation, AUDACITY, Douchebaggary, Friday Fuckery, Hipster Racism, white ppl booshit with tags , , , , , on May 18, 2012 by Cbruhs

Hipster Racism seems to be getting a lot of attention lately — from Lindy West’s excellent Jezebel article to Kyria Abraham’s exasperating, self-serving response, to this very recent example of Orientalist food truck foolery.

We here at BCB are well aware of this epidemic (we created a “Hipster Racism” category for the blog in 2009) and are pretty happy about the general increase in dialogue about it.

So for this Friday’s Fuckery, we present yet another culprit: Lucky 8′s China House (seriously), a new chic restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area, owned by Bracey Rogers and his wife Marcy Akiyama.

CBruhs met some friends at this joint a few weeks ago, and was swiftly irritated by its overpriced cooptation of ethnic food, lack of any (visible, maybe they were in the back washing dishes) Asian staff, and in particular, an ironically mustachioed server named “Tiger” who announced in rather dramatic fashion that he was about to make a bike delivery (for examples of why this is problematic, contrast this with the unglamorous, dangerous, and sometimes fatal reality of real Chinese delivery men).

Last night, BCB friend Louie Gong went to Lucky 8′s China House and was similarly not impressed by the stereotypical decor: kung fu movies, a gong, a giant to-go box, and drinks like “Phists of Phooey” (you just don’t fuck with a Bruce Lee movie). Basically what he describes as “a cartoon version of Asian culture…like they turned an Asian-themed slot machine into a restaurant.”

After Louie paid, Tiger apparently noticed his last name on the credit card. As Louie was walking out, he heard behind him: “Gong….Gong?? Hey, Gong!?” He turned around, and Tiger had gathered the cooks, picked up a mallet, and then for reals CLANGED THE EFFING GONG.

Incredulous, Gong the person asked to take a pic for posterity. And ridicule:

For Louie, this was a delightful reminder of how kids would mockingly chant “Goooong!” during basketball games. So thanks for that, Tiger — and thank you Lucky 8′s China House for serving up another shining example that there really is no difference between “Hipster racism” and just regular ol’ racism.

photos by Louie Gong

Oh Hell No: Ashton Kutcher in Brownface

Posted in Appropriation, AUDACITY, Douchebaggary, Hipster Racism, white ppl booshit, WTF?! with tags , , , , on May 3, 2012 by Cbruhs

Yesterday, Popchips unveiled its new ad campaign “Worldwide Lovers”, in which worldwide D-bag Ashton Kutcher plays four different characters on a dating show. One of these characters is “Raj”, a Bollywood producer — which is basically Ashton in brownface, a sparkly blue sherwani, and a shitty accent.

I don’t think I need to explain why this ad is racist, but I wouldn’t mind an explanation of what the hell this has to do with Popchips. And believe it or not, this campaign cost $1.5M…and those lucky enough to live in Denver, L.A., New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle would have been treated to outdoor ads as well.

Even more wack was the initial response Popchips released: “The new popchips worldwide dating video and ad campaign featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone. At popchips we embrace all types of shapes, flavors and colors, and appreciate all snackers, no matter their race or ethnicity. We hope people can enjoy this in the spirit it was intended.”

This ad isn’t about RACE, people….it’s about SNACKERS! Of all um, “shapes, flavors and colors”….especially pervy, pathetic, Indian snackers! So if you’re offended…just stop that right now!

Writer Anil Dash has been very active in responding to the ad campaign, outlining next steps and documenting his correspondence with the company.

It looks like all the tweets and criticism paid off, and Popchips pulled the ad and apologized. Founder and CEO Keith Belling wrote on the company site: “We received a lot feedback about the dating campaign parody we launched today and appreciate everyone who took the time to share their point of view. Our team worked hard to create a light-hearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologize to anyone we offended.”

Friday Fuckery: T.G.I. Friday’s Korean Tacos

Posted in Appropriation, AUDACITY, Friday Fuckery, Just sayin', Om Nom Nom with tags , , , , on April 27, 2012 by Cbruhs

photo: T.G.I. Friday’s

We’ve all been goin’ ga-ga for Korean tacos over the past few years, from Roy Choi’s groundbreaking Los Angeles-based Kogi truck to Seattle’s Marination Mobile…and countless imitators. The latest of which is your favorite suburban binge-drinking office party spot, T.G.I.F.! Or, Thank Goddess It’s Fracking Time for Korean Tacos Hells Yes Hi-Five Brah!!!

If you want a little something extra to go with those Loaded Skillet (teehee) Nachos or that bowlful of Tuscan Spinach Dip (TM), these tacos are made with Black Angus steak and they’re served with Sriracha, ginger-lime slaw, cilantro, basil aaaaaand jasmine rice pilaf. Let’s just ram the whole of Southeast Asia and the Asian subcontinent in there for good measure — and kinda skip over most of the Korean ingredients thing…kimchi and kkakdugi smells may freak out the mall walkers, brah!

Regardless, I will probably still order this mess next time I’m by the Westfield. In mah belly, it’s always Friday (Fuckery)!

via Eater

Thanks Char!

‘SAFE’ AKA ‘Jason Statham Snuffs More Asians’

Posted in All Class, Appropriation, Barf Me Out, Blame China!, model minority, please!, white ppl booshit with tags , , , , on April 26, 2012 by Cbruhs

Oh, look — another Jason Statham movie. This one is called SAFE, and the drama revolves around a girl who’s an orphaned math prodigy and can memorize anything. And she’s Asian, so that makes sense. And this Asian girl is going to be saved by Statham’s character cuz he’s a destitute, mediocre (but white!) cage fighter, and because her fellow AZNs are exploiting her by ruthlessly using her maths skills for gambling. This necessitates much ass-whupping of random Asian gangsters and a buttload of shoot ‘em ups in dark, smoky Chinatown haunts…à la the White Knight/Orientalism formula and the typical Statham movie.

At least Bai Ling won’t be making a repeat appearance as Grimy Clingy Hooker in this one:

Friday Fuckery: Angry Birds on the Needle?

Posted in Appropriation, AUDACITY, booshit, Friday Fuckery, Nerd Alert with tags , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by Cbruhs

If you are a child of the ’70s and ’80s, you may remember the psychedelic and slightly freakish Serendipity Book Series, written by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James. That was some real hippie shit. With over 60 books, popular characters included Flutterby the insecure unicorn, Serendipity the soul-searching pink lochness monster thing, and Muffin Muncher (too easy).

In 1974, the world was introduced to a huge, hairy orange blob…The Wheedle on the Needle:

Unlike the other sweet, vulnerable characters, Wheedle was one grumpy bitch:

Wheedle is a large, round, furry creature who lived in the Northwest. Bothered by the whistling of workers first settling the city of Seattle, the creature was unable to sleep and became irritable, eventually moving to Mount Rainier to escape the noise. The Wheedle slept there peacefully for many years, his red nose blinking, until the region’s growth brought people- and their whistling- to his doorstep once again. In an effort to silence the noise, the Wheedle gathered clouds in a large sack atop Mt. Rainier, returned to Seattle, climbed atop the Space Needle, and threw them into the sky to make it rain. With their lips wet from precipitation, the city’s residents were unable to whistle, and the creature once again had some peace and quiet.

So basically, Wheedle was responsible for Seattle’s shitty weather, and a hardcore environmentalist railing against the encroach of urban development. Wheedle also basically summed up the philosophy of Seattlelites: We’re glad you like it here. Now please get the hell out.

Shortly after the book’s publication, Wheedlemania was in full effect, and the Seattle SuperSonics employed Wheedle’s curmudgeony ass as a mascot during the championship era of 1978–1985. Wheedle also became a mascot for local news station KOMO-TV in 1993.

Sweet moves, Wheed!


In 2004, the compilation Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Finest in Funk and Soul 1965-75 was released, and currently a group of musicians from these original bands perform under the name Wheedle’s Groove.

But has the Wheedle’s position as Seattle icon and cranky king of The Needle been overthrown….by Angry Birds? Earlier this week, to promote the launch of the Angry Birds Space game, the Space Needle was turned into a 300-foot tall slingshot, brought to you by T-Mobile and Rovio.

photo: Rod Mar via Rovio

The only thing I know about Angry Birds is that it’s insanely popular, I suck at it, and I have a memory of being manhandled by a grown ass dude wearing an oversized Angry Birds t-shirt (unfortunate yet appropriate attire).

I’m not sure where Wheedle is right now, but this pretty much exemplifies his whole gripe with society.  I hope he’s out breaking off a chunk of Mt. Rainier to clamber up The Needle and pop that stupid ass bird with.

Wheedle 4EVA, son!

More enthralling Wheedle history here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 866 other followers