Tag Archives: immigration

yellow peril remix

posted by missmsian

In a throwback to the Yellow Peril days, Maclean’s ran a “report” this week about how there are a heckuva lot more Azns in school than there should be. The Toronto Star took it a step further and told Azn parents to stop encouraging their kids to get an education.

To Maclean’s, briefly: you bring up the fact that “U.S. studies suggest Ivy League schools have taken the issue of Asian academic prowess so seriously that they’ve operated with secret quotas for decades to maintain their WASP credentials” but spend the rest of the four-page article essentially saying the opposite. Are Azns being kept out of universities or are there too many of them in university? You can’t have it both ways.

I think it would have been worthwhile in your piece to look at the issues of (real or perceived) race-based quotas and merit-based enrollment, both of which were raised with that Ivy League statement. What a wasted opportunity.

To the Star, equally briefly: your online version’s headline, “Asian students being forced into university,” implies that students like me are incapable of making our own choices. The tone of the article suggests that it’s wrong for Azn parents to have dreams for their kids or encourage them to work hard–qualities we would call “good” in any other parent. You reported on an internal conversation some of Toronto’s east Azns had about parental expectations and university students’ mental health. That’s a discussion I think parents of every ethnic group should be having. Way to generalize.

You also said people like me don’t have social skills. That’s a low blow.

I’m not going to deconstruct these articles further because, frankly, it’s a waste of time providing a thoughtful response to two thoughtless pieces.

For a great response, check out what angry asian man wrote about the Maclean’s piece.

And look at what these crazy Azns are doing (hint: not studying!)

Are they ... partying? (Photo credit: Asians Not Studying)

Final thought: see any similarities between this and the time Don Lewis proposed an all-white basketball league because he thought the NBA was getting “too black”? Harharharharhar.

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fooled me!

posted by missmsian

WOOOOOWZA! (Photo credit: CBSA)

Young Chinese guy disguises himself as an old white dude and manages to board a Vancouver-bound flight in Hong Kong.

The unnamed youngster has been detained by the Canadian Border Services Agency and will be facing an Immigration and Refugee Board.

So … I think the bigger question CBSA should be asking is why it’s known the world over that it’s easiest to board a flight as an elderly white male.

What do you think?

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invaded: august

posted by missmsian

Another wild month for Azns in North American media. Check out July and June for more news.

Good Pakistan, Bad Pakistan

Prime Minister Harper appoints Salma Ataullahjan a senator–making her the first Pakistan-born person to hold that position–and paints her face into Duccio’s Madonna and Child. Not really. But close; she does give the standard I-love-diversity-and-integration speech. And every self-righteous liberal gives himself a pat on the back, satisfied he’s fulfilled his affirmative action quota for the year.

Not everyone is fooled by those crafty, crafty Pakistanis, though. The National Post reminds us that while some Pakistani-Canadians are diversity-loving political puppets, most are actually TERRORISTS. The best way to remind us, of course, is by running three articles called “All roads lead to Pakistan,” “Canada’s battle with radicalization” and “Don’t call it Islamophobia” in the same issue a few days after the devastating floods and basically implying that if we contribute to relief efforts, we’re funding terrorist activities. Thanks for enlightening me.

Dear Ignorant …

The opposite of blatantly racist reporting is the equally annoying “pitiful immigrant story” some newspapers like to run.

In response to a Toronto Star editorial called “Exploited immigrants,” letter writer Robert Manders opines:

“Is Ford in Oshawa treating Asian immigrants like slave labour? I don’t think so. Are the Bay or Sears hiring young Asian women to work long sweaty underpaid hours in their alterations department? No. Do stylish shops on Queen St. have secret employees toiling unseen and in distress? Highly unlikely. If the miscreant employers are of Asian origin, say so.”

Actually, yes, they are–here and overseas. Exploitation has a broader definition than you would imagine.

The Muslims are boarding!

Creepy dude films a few women wearing veils boarding a flight and extrapolates from his little vignette that the West is letting terrorists onto airplanes for the sake of political correctness.

BUT IT GETS WORSE BECAUSE …

The Tamils are landing!

Run! Away! Criminalize them before they arrive on shore! Falsely conflate a liberation movement with terrorism!

Wasn’t it John “Father of Liberalism” Locke who defended the right to revolt against an unjust government in Two Treatises of Government? So, actually, you could say the LTTE is operating within a liberal-democratic system. Okay, there may be gaps in this argument, but it’s no more flawed than this logic, which has been popular among mainstream media:

Brown people –> on boats –> terrorists

Do you speak wif broken Engrish accent?

You may not be able to get job interviews, but you’re welcome to attend a diversity casting call.

No, they’re not casting for a particular show. But, hey, if there’s ever a biopic about a white woman who rescues inner-city kids or a movie that requires slumdog millionaires, murder victims, enemies of the U.S. army or an IT geek-best friend … well, you might get a call after all.

At least networks now look like they’re doing something about unequal representation in the entertainment industry–a point brought up by this report that says Sikhs are misrepresented in pop culture.

Groundbreaking research

Victims of stereotyping and racism are screwed in life. You read it here first.

These are a few of my favourite Fordisms

Trigger warning: contains racial slurs

“Those Oriental people work like dogs. … They’re slowly taking over.”

“Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?”

On a video about homosexuality in Toronto’s South Asian community: “I have no problem giving money out to physically or mentally handicapped children or seniors, but spending $5,000 on this video is disgusting, it is absolutely disgusting to spend this amount of money on this, whatever it was called, video.”

Oh, Calgary

The private deck at this home, that “will only sell to a white buyer,” won’t have “colored people peaking [sic] into your backyard.” Good to know.

Let’s face it. We’re all terrorists.

In previous months, we at least had a celeb scandal (thanks, Tiger) or exotic food story to balance out the coverage of Azns. Not this month.

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you are racist against yourself

posted by ellephanta/Celine

This very interesting stereotype about asian parents unwilling to let their offsprings date or associate with white people (or any other race besides their own), I think suggests in subtle ways that “well, asians are racists too”.

But of course. Asians are capable of doing and saying racist things and holding racist beliefs. Or did you think that they were objects that are incapable of thinking, screwing up, changing, learning?

My race certainly doesn’t immune me from being racist towards my own race or any other race. It’s our actions, not our identities themselves that are either racist or not. I certainly run into a lot of racism (against white people, black people, etc.) in, for example, the Korean first generation immigrants community in Toronto (the one I’m most familiar with), especially in our parents’ generation (people of our generation are often just as bad, but in a subtler and different ways than our parents’, something I hope to write about at one point in the future) that remain thoroughly uninformed on race theory and the marginalized status of racialized people in our community.

But consider this: Most of those in Toronto’s Korean community with language barriers separating them from anybody who is not a Korean-speaking Korean are effectively segregated from the rest of Toronto, like a bubble in the middle of a bustling metropolis. I think this has real negative consequences. This certainly does not aid them in dispelling their messed up preconceptions about whole races of people — which, by the way, was first conceived by them through messed up representations in media, their one of very few source of contact with non-Koreans — and instead, as a small town might, intensifies xenophobia and other in-group out-group attitudes.

My parents have lived here for ten years and they do not have a single friend who is an English-speaking white person. This is not closed-mindedness on their part, but simply a refusal to take shit from people. They rightfully don’t want to be patronized because they’re grown-ass adults of remarkable intelligence and insight, but every encounter they have had with white people, they were patronized. They don’t want to be treated like “an identity” and they don’t want their failure to speak fluent English to mean that people can treat them like children – but every encounter they have had with white people in Toronto, they felt like they were in kindergarten – so they got fed up and quit. I’m not sure if I condone them quitting, but at the very least I understand it.

My parents have always been committed to feminism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-ablism, anti-nationalism, pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights, anti-classism, anti-war, free speech, and freedom of religion (yes, even before they moved here and were “enlightened” by the flourishing “multiculturalism” in Toronto) as all of their friends back in Korea have been. They’re brilliant and kind and wise and in love with humanity and I love them very much, even though they’re super flawed as we all are and we fight often (my dad sometimes gets weirdly nationalistic when his masculinity is threatened but then my mom calls him on it), they are way more open and caring than a lot of young people I met at Queen’s University.

They’ve always been critical of bigotry in South Korea, and now of what they find in Canada and the U.S., as they obviously should and would be, given that they’re sane — just as a sane white person would be of their community if it is racist, anti-feminist, etc. My parents and their friends don’t give a crap about the race of the people their offsprings date as long as they’re cool and awesome, as they should. As white people should too. As any sane people should. They’re not exceptions to the rule (“asians have racist beliefs, and Celine’s parents are exceptions”) because there is no rule. One just think there is because they just love putting a whole race of people in an imaginary group and generalizing about them.

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revenge fantasy

posted by missmsian

Note: Immigration does not have to be a drain on city resources. Immigrants are not synonymous with people of colour/refugees/public housing/poverty.

But if they are more likely to be associated with these terms, we have to look at structures, systems and institutions that create these connections. And we have to understand the effects of colonization.

Got that?

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invaded: july

posted by missmsian

A look at Azns in media last month.

If it’s K-Town, I’m down … I think

This blog had some discussion about whether the reality show modeled after MTV’s sleazy boozefest “Jersey Shore” would ridicule its Azn participants or allow them to, for once, shed their bookish images.

I think most of us are anxiously waiting to see if a network picks it up. If no network does, much as I hate the show’s concept, I would have to cry foul and call racism.

Golden boy

Contrary to what I mistakenly blogged about before, Golden State Warriors’ draft pick Jeremy Lin is not the first Azn-American to grace the NBA. Wat Misaka, a Japanese-American, joined the league in 1947.

However, Lin does join a very small group of Azns who have made it to the big leagues. Here’s hoping he has a long, successful career–and that he develops a signature jump fans can start calling the “Lin-dy hop.” (If this actually happens, you read it here first.)

“Ching Chong Song” is just wrong

Village Voice recently voted white indie band “Ching Chong Song” the worst band name of all time. Uh … yeah.

A band member’s response to ongoing criticisms about the name:

“Growing up a child of a gay parent in a tiny town, a poor second-generation Italian girl, I also have experience with the nuances of language. And give me a break you stupid twats. By the way, ‘ching chang chong’ is what people in Germany call the game rock paper scissors, and stupid petty retards is what I’m calling you.”

Wait … your parent is gay so that makes it okay to be racist?!

Mangomania

It’s that good.

Canada hates Iranians

Nuclear weapons! Ahmadinejad! Muslims! Apparently, Canada has a lot to hate about Iran. So much so that new sanctions against the country were announced July 26 in an effort to curb the possibility that Iran might eventually develop some type of nuclear-related weaponry.

“These sanctions are in no way intended to punish the Iranian people,” Prime Minister Harper promised in an official statement.

Change your skin colour or get out of this country

Sob. Sob. Sob. White people everywhere started crying “reverse racism” after Sara Landriault, a white woman, couldn’t apply for a federal government job because the application is limited to applicants of colour and Indigeous applicants. Cabinet minister Stockwell Day was prompted to announce, “We want to ensure that no Canadian is barred from opportunities in the public service based on race or ethnicity.”

WHAT THE HECK. PEOPLE OF COLOUR AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES HAVE SAID THAT FOR YEARS.

The only difference is, we mean that people of colour, Indigenous people, differently-abled people and women who have the same (if not more) qualifications as able-bodied white men are systemically denied jobs because of arbitrary judgements based on their appearance.

And Day and fellow white male Cabinet minister Jason Kenney mean that the current employment equity policy (which, hello, is different from “affirmative action,” but neither has acknowledged this) bars white men (and sometimes women) from applying to 2 per cent of the federal government’s jobs. That’s 91 out of 5,000 jobs, according to 2008 figures.

The Tories are ordering a review of “affirmative action” policies. That will likely result in the designated “historically disadvantaged groups” being even more underrepresented in the public service.

Conservative Senator Donald Oliver speaks very eloquently about the need for employment equity. I can’t link to other articles on the subject … the comment boards are too terrifying.

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being azn: resentment, regret, re-evaluation

posted by telleou

What does it mean to be Azn? For me, in the early years – it had a lot to do with resentment; now – regret, and regret is inevitably linked to re-evaluation.

I grew up in Whitey-Ville, where I was one of six Azns in the school. My best friend was an Indian Muslim from South Africa. I was not the politically savvy, racist-rebuker I am today.  I didn’t understand the fierce pride that came with laying claim to a minority status; I was nine, and all I really wanted to do was fit in with everyone else.

So I resented everything that marked me as an outsider: the rice in my lunch box, the cute little keipos my parents thought to dress me in. Even my parents themselves; I couldn’t understand why they didn’t understand … that a bagel in my lunch box would make everything easier, that a t-shirt would do. I hated when there was mention of Chinese New Year; I hated how everyone looked at me to be a spokesman for the country that I was not part of and did not want to be part of. I wanted to turn my ethnicity on and off–Chinese  at home and white whenever the situation called for it.

Now, I hate the fact that I don’t qualify for the Mandarin course for heritage students at UofT.  (That one stung quite a bit … Is it not my heritage?) Now, I hate that my conversations with my parents sometimes rely on Google Translate. Now, I regret.

I regret the grey area I chose to isolate myself in–‘neither here nor there’ and at the same time, ‘on the outside looking in.’ Too distant to be part of the wars of my father, and much too close to something much too unfamiliar.

I regret that I grew up thinking that the immediacy lay in trying to change into someone else, instead of retaining who I was.

I regret that I never saw my parents for who they are: two incredibly strong people who bore the burden of systemic discrimination. Two people that work a whole lot harder than they should have to; two people that still love more than they hate.

Now, I’m re-evaluating.

Posting to the invazn is part of that. (I still don’t like to draw attention to my ethnicity. When it happens, I’m usually pointing and screaming, ‘Racist!’)

Who would have thought the girl who was scared to be Azn for the first half of her life would announce her ethnicity like this?

Who would have thought that the little Azn girl in first grade, who barely had a useable grasp of English, would go on to be an English major at the University of Toronto?

I’m doing some re-evaluating. And everyone else needs to do some too.

I’m looking forward to moving forward.

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free & cheap things to do in toronto

posted by missmsian

New to T.O.? Just visiting? A longtime-local who’s never stepped outside your neighbourhood?

Here are eight fun thangs and happenangs around the city. Not entirely ‘mainstream’ but not so far off the beaten track that you need an ice pick and bottled water to do them.

1. The Bluffs

One of the most beautiful areas in Toronto, and I’m not bluffing! Okay, that joke failed … but the view is for real. The bluffs run for 14 km along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Scarborough. Bluffer’s Park, accessible from Brimley Rd., is probably the most foot-friendly area.

2. National Film Board (150 John St.)

I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent at the digital viewing stations since I discovered the NFB two years ago. Settle down in a comfy chair and access more than 5,500 NFB films on a personal, flat-panel, touchscreen monitor. Here’s the clincher: for free.

The films are organized into categories for easy searches. My favourite search? “Cultural Diversity and Multiculturalism.”

3. Subway station tour

Have you ever ridden the entire subway system in one trip? It’s pretty fun.

Take pictures with tacky, fake artifacts at Museum station. Visit Bathurst station’s Bakery On The Go–the best subway bakery in the system. Buy half-priced books at Eglinton station. Enjoy busker performances at most stations.

Need more ideas? How about a subway dance party, some spoken word or …

4. CBC building (250 Front St. W.)

Visit the CBC Museum (free admission!) to learn about the history of Canadian broadcasting. You’ll probably run into a lot of school groups there. If you’re looking for something more grown-up, try to score tickets to a taping of The Hour or The Rick Mercer Report.

Stop by the Glenn Gould Theatre to see what’s on. There are usually cool artistic performances, but I prefer the media-related panel discussions they run every once in a while.

5. Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester St.)

Farm! In! The! City! Worth a visit if you’re a city snob with no knowledge of, or inkling to visit, farming communities. The farm was my first school field trip as a newly-arrived immigrant to Canada, so I have fond memories of it.

6. Heritage Toronto self-guided tours

From May to October, HT offers free neighbourhood walking tours. If you’re like me and embarrassed to be the only 20-something single person on one of these (okay, to be fair, I’ve only had one awkward experience), try downloading self-guided tours off the HT website.

I recommend the Spadina Ave. tour because it’s the only one I’ve done … it takes you through Spadina’s development as an industrial centre and waves of Jewish and Chinese immigration.

7. York University observatory

Bring a date and a camera to the University’s observatory on public viewing nights. This summer, it’s Wednesdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. On clear nights, you can try the telescope with the help of observatory staff. On cloudy nights, there are info sessions and a planetarium show.

8. The Docks (Polson St.)

Now known as Polson Pier, it’s home to concert hall/nightclub Sound Academy, go karts, mini golf and the newly-opened Oh Boy! Burger Market. But the real treat is Toronto’s only downtown drive-in movie theatre.

What have I missed?

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between worlds

posted by flipette

We are the 1.5 generation.
Too old to be born on Canadian soil
Too young to remember the politics of our homeland.
Stuck between cultures, I try to navigate
my way
through this mosaic
but my identity compass seems to be broken.

Finding that being a hyphenated Canadian
doesn’t mean I get the best of both worlds
Only the doubled struggle to belong.
To long for a place where I am an individual
For a place where I don’t carry the burden of knowledge that we
were duped to come here.

They told us it wouldn’t be that hard.
Had my family believing that a university education
and years of experience
Meant something to this country.

Instead, they had my father laying brick
Draining his brain of skills he possessed as an electrical engineer.
Had my mother re-taking tests to show she was worthy of her title
Disregarding the hundreds of students that have passed through her door
As a university professor.

Touching down at Pearson airport
with a small statue of Santo Niño in my backpack
I believed in a better life.
Snow, new friends and relatives.

I didn’t realize that dark skin meant difference.
That a flat nose was abnormal.
That a slight slant of the eyes categorized those who were ‘born’ smart
And those who worked hard.

I wander aimlessly without a destination.
Destined to be lost in all this multicultural talk.
Celebrating the diversity of a place
that uses our mothers as picturesque caregivers
Raising the children of elites in this nation.
Motherless children back home
Resenting the loneliness that this capitalist cycle provides.

Pulled in all directions I ask myself,
“Where does my allegience lie?”
In the ashes of Mt. Pinatubo
or on the shores of Lake Ontario.

How can I be happy with surroundings that had me denying my heritage?
The shame that I felt
For most of my life
At being Filipina
A wretched sister of the 1.5 generation family
If we don’t know who were are
How do we know where we’re going?

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happy humiliation day!

posted by missmsian

I always approach Canada Day with some hesitance. On one hand, I have good memories of going to Queen’s Park with my parents (when we first immigrated to Toronto) and getting 25-cent hot dogs and paper flags.

Over the years, I’ve seen the annual celebration slowly change to better reflect our demographics. There used to only be English and French performances on the main stage, but recently there have been shows featuring other languages. The hot dog prices have also gone up, but that’s another story.

On the other hand, July 1 marks another significant Canadian event that far fewer people know about, but that has had tremendous consequences for certain Azn communities. On July 1, 1923, the Canadian government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which effectively barred East Azn* immigration until it was repealed more than 20 years later.

*Japanese people were sometimes subject to this Act because, y’know, we can’t tell ’em apart. The Act could also be used to prohibit South Azns from entering the country, if they somehow got past another discriminatory piece of legislation, the Continuous Passage Act.

“The first federal anti-Chinese bill was passed in 1885. It took the form of a Head tax of $50 imposed, with few exceptions, upon every person of Chinese origin entering the country.” — Chinese Canadian National Council

The Act came as a response to public and political concern over the growing number of East Azn immigrants in spite of the head tax (which was increased from $50 to $500 in 1903, $500 being the equivalent of two years’ wages).

Between 1923 and 1947, when the Act was repealed, less than 50 Chinese people entered the country. Most who were already here were men, leading to the development of a “bachelor society”–one factor that undoubtedly contributed to the desexualization of Azn men we see in popular discourse today.

"Harro, I Mickey Rooney playing ching chong man. I ruined Breakfast At Tiffany's wif my yellowface performance."

Similar legislation was passed in the U.S. In fact, then-president Roosevelt only called for the Act to be repealed in 1943 because the U.S. Army needed more recruits. Whether in war or on the railroads, East Azns were considered unimportant enough to blow up.

After WWII, people of East Azn descent still didn’t have the right to vote. Canadians of Japanese descent had been uprooted and sent off to concentration camps in the prairies during the war. Their now-empty properties in the Fraser Valley were conveniently given to white Canadian soldiers returning from overseas.

I could go on, but I think I’ve given you enough to understand why July 1 is known as “Humiliation Day” among some Chinese-Canadians. You probably didn’t learn about this in high school; I grew up in the Canadian public school system and I certainly didn’t.

Think about this as you’re celebrating “Canada” Day. And chew on the fact that we sing “our home and native land” in the anthem when, really, it’s our home ON native land.

Oh, Canada.

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