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On Yellow Face, Racial Parody, and White Denial

The fight over the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society production of The Mikado, that just closed it’s summer run, has been noisy and contentious. So noisy and contentious that it earned a special segment on the MSNBC show, Melissa Harris-Perry, this past weekend.

What’s all the noise about? Yellow face. Yellow face refers to a form of racist caricature wherein non-Asian actors wear stereotypically Asian costumes and styles, and speak in ridiculous accents for laughs. Yellow face is the anti-Asian version of black face.

The controversy went wide when Seattle Times columnist Sharon Pian Chan went after the …

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Model Minority Suicide: Five Reasons, Five Ways

It’s time to kill the Asian American model minority myth, and I mean really kill it.

That myth is one of the tenets of American racism, used repeatedly for decades to promote the idea that racism and structural racial disadvantage are either non-existent or at least entirely surmountable, while suggesting that some people of color, and Black people in particular, are just whiners unwilling to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. And that belief, that the black poor are just entitlement junkies, has negative consequences for all poor people because the tough “love” solutions this belief inspires, like cutting back …

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Racism is Like Cell Phones

 

I might’ve become one of those people who buy into the whitewashing hype that race no longer matters in America. Having grown up in the environment in which I did, if I ever commented on racism, people would typically dismiss it with, “Don’t be so touchy.” Racism was a thing of the past. The End. As I wrote in an earlier post, as a young person, I had few tools to understand my own racial oppression as anything more than a hangup that I needed to get over. If I hadn’t met the remarkable racial justice organizers that I …

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The Other Side of Anti-Black Racism

 

Give me a place to stand on and I will move the earth

– Archimedes

I’ve argued in the past that the fulcrum of white supremacy is anti-black racism. A fulcrum, you probably already know, is what one rests a lever on to give it, well, leverage. Without it, a lever is just a stick.

I’ve called anti-black racism the fulcrum of white supremacy because I believe fear and loathing of black people is the driving force behind our racial politics. It has shaped everything from welfare policy to policing. While today unions may be working people’s best friend, …