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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

April 12, 2010

Written by C.N.

Updated List of White Backlash Examples

Following up on my earlier post entitled “White Backlash: Yes, It’s Real,” I will use this post to maintain a continually updated list of news stories that highlight and exemplify various examples of this kind of direct and indirect anti-minority, anti-‘foreigner,’ and pro-‘traditional American’ mentality and behavior that is increasingly on display throughout American society. The list in in reverse chronological order (most recent stories first). Also, feel free to mention any other examples I missed in the comments section at the bottom.

  • Secret Service to Probe Bullet-Ridden Picture of Obama (Jan. 2012)
    A photograph showing a group of men with guns posing with a bullet-riddled T-shirt containing an image of Barack Obama’s face is to be investigated by the Secret Service. The picture originally appeared on the Facebook page of an Arizona (surprise!) police officer.
  • Kansas Republican Leader Calls Michelle Obama ‘Mrs. YoMama,’ Prays She Becomes a Widow (Jan. 2012)
    Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal (R) was forced to apologize to First Lady Michelle Obama after forwarding an email to fellow lawmakers that called her “Mrs. YoMama.”
    Earlier that same week, O’Neal said “Let [President Obama's] days be few” and calls for his children to be without a father and his wife to be widowed.
  • Arizona Teenage Girls Post Racist YouTube Denigrating Immigrants (Jan. 2012)
    A group of Arizona girls post a video on YouTube about “Mexican immigration” and the “new Arizona law that just passed the legislator (sic).” The video was pulled from YouTube and the creators deleted their YouTube account shortly after their inboxes and social media accounts were flooded with video responses and hate mail.
  • California Libertarian Politician Calls for Obama to be Assassinated (Jan. 2012)
    Jules Manson, who ran for city council in Carson (CA), posts about President Obama on his Facebook page, “Assassinate the fucken nigger and his monkey children.”
  • Fox Sports Sports Segment Mocks Asians With an Accent (Sept. 2011)
    Fox Sports deliberately singles out Asian students who have a foreign accent at USC to suggest that USC students are clueless about sports.
  • Muslim American U.S. Citizen Removed from Flight for Saying “I’ve Got to Go” (March 2011)
    Racial Profiling 1010: a Muslim American graduate student was removed from a Southwest flight after a crew member thought they had overheard the passenger say something vaguely threatening over her cell phone — “I’ve got to go.”
  • Posters for Students of Color Vandalized at Univ. of Utah (March 2011)
    Candidates of color running for student government at the Univ. of Utah have their campaign posters torn down or vandalized with racist terms such as “terrorists,” “ghetto,” and other offensive stereotypes.
  • Blond UCLA Student Majoring in White Privilege (March 2011)
    Clueless UCLA student Alexandra Wallace thinks it’s cool to post a video on YouTube where she mocks and stereotypes Asians (yes, the tired, old ‘ching chong’ routine) and makes light of the catastrophe in Japan. [Insert blond joke here].
  • Kansas Lawmaker Suggests Hunting Illegal Immigrants Like ‘Feral Hogs’ (March 2011)
    Murder is so funny, isn’t it — State Rep. Virgil Peck cracks, “Looks like to me, if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem,” refuses to apologize.
  • British Prime Minister Calls Multiculturalism a Failure (February 2011)
    Cameron stereotypes and indicts entire religious, ethnic, and cultural groups by arguing that “hands-off tolerance” in Britain and other European nations has encouraged Muslims and other immigrant groups “to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.”
  • Asian American Legislator Receives Death Threats for Criticizing Rush Limbaugh (January 2011)
    Rush Limbaugh mocks China’s President Hu Jintao using juvenile “ching chong” gibberish, refuses to apologize, and his supporters threaten the life of an Asian American legislator who calls for a boycott of Limbaugh’s advertisers.
  • Ohio Mom Sent to Jail for Sending Kids to Suburban School (January 2011)
    A single African American mother tries give her kids a better life by sending them to a predominantly White school, only to be arrested, convicted of “tampering with school records,” and sentenced to 10 days in jail.
  • Virginia Republican Chair Compares Blacks to Dogs (October 2010)
    Virginia’s Republican Party Chairman Bob McDonnell sent around an email in which he draws on racist stereotypes about Blacks on welfare.
  • Billboard in Colorado Portrays President Obama as Terrorist, Gangster, Mexican Bandit, and Gay (October 2010)
    An anonymous individual or group puts up a billboard on Interstate 70 in Colorado that has cartoon caricatures of President Obama as an Arab terrorist, a gangster, a Mexican bandit/illegal immigrant, and as a homosexual.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Multiculturalism has ‘Utterly Failed’ (October 2010)
    Germany’s leader declares that attempts at building a multicultural society has “utterly failed” and that, basically it is entirely the responsibility of non-Germans (i.e., non-Whites) to integrate into the German mainstream. Didn’t we hear a similar message from another high-profile German Chancellor back in the 1930s?
  • Islamophobia Reaches a Fever Pitch (August 2010)
    Racist and xenophobic opposition to a mosque near Ground Zero and calls by some Christian leaders to burn the Koran on 9/11 illustrates America’s rising hatred of Islam.
  • “Yup, I’m A Racist” T-Shirts for Sale (July 2010)
    Celebrate Independence Day 2010 by proudly proclaiming your racism and do your part to make racism cool.
  • U.S Hospital Fires 4 Filipina Nurses for Speaking Tagalog on Their Lunch Break (June 2010)
    Four Filipina ex-staffers of a Baltimore City hospital haven’t gotten over the shock of being summarily fired from their jobs, allegedly because they spoke Pilipino during their lunch break. . . “They claimed they heard us speaking in Pilipino and that is the only basis of the termination. It wasn’t because of my functions as a nurse. There were no negative write-ups, no warning before the termination,” [Nurse Hachelle Hatano] added.
  • South Carolina State Senator Calls President Obama a “Raghead” (June 2010)
    Republican state Sen. Jake Knotts refers to President Obama and Nikki Haley, a Republican gubernatorial candidate of Indian descent: “We’ve already got a raghead in the White House, we don’t need another raghead in the governor’s mansion.”
  • Arizona Passes Law Censoring Ethnic Studies Programs (May 2010)
    On the heels of the law that critics argue would legalize racial profiling against Latinos, Arizona’s new anti-ethnic studies bill “prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group.”
  • Alabama Governor Candidate Declares “We Speak English” (April 2010)
    Tim James, Republican candidate for Governor of Alabama, releases a TV ad in which he declares, “This is Alabama; we speak English. If you want to live here, learn it” (you can watch the actual ad at the link above).
  • Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration (April 2010)
    Arizona’s new legislation would allow police to question anyone suspected of being an unauthorized immigrant. Critics charge that it basically amounts to legally-sanctioned racial profiling and plan demonstrations, boycotts, and lawsuits to protest and block its implementation.
  • Asian American Legislator Receives Racist Threats After Questioning Palin Visit (April 2010)
    California State Legislator Leland Yee summarizes the racist threats he received from Sarah Palin supporters after questioning her planned visit to a Cal State University campus.
  • John Jay College Accused of Bias Against Noncitizens (April 2010)
    The Justice Department files a lawsuit against John Jay College of Criminal Justice, accusing it of violating provisions of immigration law by demanding extra work authorization from at least 103 individuals since 2007.
  • McDonnell’s Confederate History Month Proclamation Irks Civil Rights Leaders (April 2010)
    The Governor of Virginia revives a dormant proclamation that April is “Confederate History Month,” with the initial version of his proclamation omitting any mention of slavery.
  • Male Studies vs. Men’s Studies (April 2010)
    A group of White male academics are trying to create a new academic discipline that highlights the ways in which males (by implication, White males) are apparently an underrepresented and oppressed group in contemporary American society.
  • Racist Fliers Distributed at UW-Oshkosh, St. Norbert College (March 2010)
    An example of how White supremacist hate groups are increasingly capitalizing on this White backlash.
  • UC Regents Sorry for Acts of Hate on Campuses (March 2010)
    Summarizing numerous racist incidents at numerous University of CA (UC) campuses, students and faculty try to get the UC Regents to see that racial ignorance and intolerance is a serious and endemic problem.
  • Meeting Space for Muslim Students at Brandeis is Vandalized (March 2010)
    On the heals of the racist incidents at the University of CA campuses, a newly renovated meeting space for Muslim students at Brandeis University is vandalized.
  • The Year in Nativism (March 2010)
    The Southern Poverty Law Center summarizes notable recent hate crimes against immigrants in 2008 and notes that nativist extremist groups have more than tripled in number, from 144 in 2007 to 309 in 2009.
  • Justice Department Fights Bias in Lending (January 2010)
    Under a new initiative from the Obama administration, the U.S. Justice Department begins targeting the rising predatory practice of “reverse redlining” aimed predominantly at minorities in which “. . . a mortgage brokerage or bank systematically singles out minority neighborhoods for loans with inferior terms like high up-front fees, high interest rates and lax underwriting practices. Because the original lender would typically resell such a loan after collecting its fees, it did not care about the risk of foreclosure.”
  • New Basketball League for Whites Only (January 2010)
    The “All-American Basketball Alliance” announces plans to create a minor league basketball league in which “only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league.”

August 14, 2009

Written by C.N.

Posts from Years Past: August

You might be interested to read the following posts from August of years past:

  • 2008: Professional Women’s Golf: English Only
    Critique of the LPGA’s policy requiring its players to be fluent in English and the penalties against them if they are not.
  • 2007: The Downside of Diversity
    A new study questions whether racial/ethnic and cultural diversity actually produces a net benefit for American society.
  • 2006: Latest ACT Scores by Racial Group
    The latest statistical breakdown of ACT scores across different racial/ethnic groups sheds some light on one aspect of the model minority image for Asian Americans.
  • 2005: Asian Names: Americanize or Not?
    Examining a common dilemma among Asian Americans: whether to keep using their given Asian name, or switch to an “easier-to-pronounce” Americanized name.

August 26, 2008

Written by C.N.

Professional Women’s Golf: English Only

I presume that most of you have heard about various campaigns aimed at making English the official language of the U.S., or a particular state, or some other entity or institution. In recent decades, such campaigns have had some successes. But as ESPN reports, the latest high-profile attempt at instituting English as the official language comes from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA):

Players were told by LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens that by the end of 2009, all players who have been on the tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills or face a membership suspension. A written explanation of the policy was not given to players, according to the report. . . .

Every Korean player who spoke with Golfweek about the meeting came away with the understanding she would lose her tour card if she failed the test rather than face suspension, according to the report. But Korean players who spoke about the policy supported the tour’s position, though some, including Se Ri Pak, felt fines would be better than suspensions. . . .

Players must be able to conduct interviews and give acceptance speeches without the help of a translator, [an LPGA official] said, according to the report. Galloway said the policy takes effect immediately, but that players’ English proficiency would not be measured until the end of 2009, according to the report. The LPGA’s membership includes 121 international players from 26 countries; 45 are South Koreans.

Those who follow professional women’s golf should know that in recent years, a large number of South Korean and Korean American players have become quite prominent and successful. For example, 14 of the top 24 LPGA money earners so far in the 2008 season are Asian or Asian American.

Based on the disproportionate presence and success of these Asian players, the question becomes, is the LPGA singling them out with this new “English only” rule? Is this the 21st century version of the Foreign Miner’s Tax that was levied only at Chinese immigrants back in the 1800s once they became “too successful?”

The ESPN article seems to suggest that many, perhaps even most, of these Asian and Asian American LPGA players do not object to the rule, presumably because they agree with the LPGA’s stated rationale that it is to attract more corporate sponsors who would be more apt to support the sport if its best players are able to converse in English on television.

I can’t speak for how these Asian and Asian American women golfers honestly feel about this new rule, but I can speak for myself in saying that it sounds discriminatory to me. Before I talk specifically about how this applies to the LPGA, I want to first relate it to the larger “Official English” efforts throughout American society.

I want to make it clear that I support LPGA players and all immigrants to the U.S. in general learning English and trying to integrate into the “mainstream.” I do not support immigrants — Asian or otherwise — isolating themselves into their own ethnic enclaves and not making any effort to assimilate to some degree into American society.

At the same time, we need to remember that the overwhelming majority of immigrants already know that for them to achieve meaningful mobility in American society, they need to learn English. With that in mind, English is already the de facto official language of the U.S.

Campaigns to mandate English as the official language only serve to cause more divisions, resentment on both sides, and will actually hurt immigrants’ attempts to learn English because they eliminate much-needed bilingual programs and resources, leading immigrants to give up on their efforts to learn English.

As applied to the LPGA, the fact that so many players from Asia are participating and doing well in their sport suggests to me that golf’s popularity is spreading all around the world and is becoming less U.S.-centric. This actually corresponds to the larger trends of globalization, as the world becomes more interconnected and American society becomes more culturally diverse.

With that in mind, I see the LPGA’s “English Only” mandate as a reactionary effort to keep the sport as “American” (i.e. White) as possible. Instead of embracing golf’s growing global appeal and perhaps attract more international sponsors, the LPGA apparently wants to stick its head in the sand and pretend that it’s 1958, rather than 2008.

My guess is that most if not all Asian LPGA players are trying to learn as much English as possible, just like the overwhelming majority of immigrants to the U.S. in general. But mandating that they do so is basically an ethnocentric slap in their face.

It also stands in opposition to what’s going on in the rest of the world and American society, as many Americans rush to learn languages such as Chinese. To me, it’s an example of a White-dominated institution desperately clinging to their old identity in the face of change all around them.

—————————————

Update: On September 5, 2008, in the face of widespread criticism, the LPGA announced that it would not suspend players who were not sufficiently fluent in English, although they still reserve the right to fine such players if their English does not improve.

It’s a step in the right direction but sorry LPGA, in my book, this does not go far enough. The LPGA’s plan to require English is still a bad policy and even though they now say they won’t suspend players who aren’t fluent enough, they would still fine them. To me, that is still discriminatory and unjust.

LPGA, you just need to wake up and smell what you’re shoveling — this is the 21st century, globalized and transnational, whether you like it not. Instead of trying to turn back the calendar to the 1950s, try to get with the times and realize that the sport is now a global, not exclusively American, game.