Link Lineup – April 2021

I Grew Up in a Majority-Minority Country. We Still Have a Problem with Anti-Blackness

I found my own Trinidadian upbringing confusing. On one hand, I was made to believe that race mattered very little, echoing sentiments of postraciality that surfaced after President Barack Obama was elected. My schoolbooks emphasized that Trinidad and Tobago was a rainbow utopia, evident by the shoehorning of as many creeds and races as could possibly fit into small, grayscale pictorial representations. I’d look at my face in the mirror—my light but definitely brown skin, my broad nose—clocking my features against the fact that my last name was confusingly Chinese (my great-grandfather on my dad’s side came from there) and wondering what the hell I was.

In the Caribbean, there are so many complex relationships with our Blackness, what Blackness could look like and who got to be Black in the first dang place. In islands like Trinidad where you have a more visible history of non-Black people of color (primarily Indian and Chinese) marrying and loving Black people, Blackness is complicated. And so is your understanding of where white supremacy fits in to the conversation. Because the people in power in Trinidad, in the Virgin Islands, in Jamaica… aren’t actually or typically white people. And yet, white supremacy thrives in these places to the point of harming people of color who live there.

The History Of Solidarity Between Asian And Black Americans

TRAN: So the first thing I want people to know is that solidarity is there. It’s been there. You know, we can trace the historical roots of Asian-Black solidarity back to 1955 with the Bandung Conference, where representatives of people from the Asian continent and folks on the African continent came together to talk about what decolonization was going to look like for both of us. Fast forward to things like the relationship between Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. King, and then all the way to, you know, the fight against the Klan in New Orleans in the ’80s with Vietnamese fishermen.

So within the American imaginary, we are interested in racial antagonism between Black and Asian folks. However, what we see time and time again is that we also work in concert against racial injustice. And the most recent iteration of what that looks like is the formation of Asians For Black Lives in 2014, 2015, after the call for solidarity from Black Lives Matter.

Speaking of white supremacy, I mean… that’s the whole insistence on there being this entire lack of solidarity between Black and Asian communities. That’s a lie. Yes, solidarity can seem like a myth because of how many people insist on getting in their own way in service of white supremacy, but it exists between our communities. It has always existed. It can be difficult to remember sometimes, but it’s there. We’re living it, or trying to…

Video saved the K-pop stars: Brave Girls reborn via YouTube

The Brave Girls were losing courage just weeks ago, on the verge of breaking up and abandoning their dreams of K-pop stardom after years of going nowhere.

Then a pseudonymous YouTuber called Viditor uploaded a compilation of them performing on South Korean army bases — and saved their careers.

Brave Girls are just… so cool? I love this story of triumph and an underrated group being saved thanks to a viral video. “Rollin’” is such a fun song – I was singing the chorus just a few hours ago – and it brought Brave Girls back to the forefront of domestic and global Korean-pop stardom. I have never been this proud of a group in my life like… I can’t get over that these women are getting this second chance at global stardom and I am looking forward to supporting them in the future. They really deserve it!

Them Is Pure Degradation Porn

In 2018, the artist Lorraine O’Grady said at a Brooklyn Museum book event, “In the future, white supremacy will no longer need white people.” That future is now.

O’Grady’s belief nods to the ways the structures of white supremacy are so ingrained in our culture that to exorcise them goes far beyond reckoning with whiteness itself. But after watching Them,Amazon’s latest “horror” anthology series, which dropped this past Friday, this quote came to mind for its distillation of the way people of color sometimes participate in their own degradation and in the systems that damage our lives and, in many cases, cut them heartbreakingly short.

I got major Bad Vibes from Them from the moment the poster dropped. Every single thing I’ve seen about the series has reinforced those vibes. This review, by Vulture’s Angelica Jade, gets at the meat of the issues present with Them. This series is… bad. It’s bad, it’s painful, and I don’t think Black people are its audience at all. From weird choices it makes from the premise – why would a family fleeing white supremacists who killed a child move to a place… where they were the only Black people? – to the gratuitous depictions of violence on-screen, this is a series that didn’t have to be made. From the title and font, people made connections to Us. Like the goal was clearly to evoke a similar sense of disquiet with the narratives on display. However Us isn’t wallowing in (internalized?) antiblackness the way Them is.

Warrior Takes the “Model Minority” Cliche and “Flips It on Its Ass”

“When it comes to a commitment to [spending] tens of millions of dollars, people can talk about inclusion and diversity, but they also tend to be very conservative,” Lin said. “When we presented the fact that we wanted to have all these three-dimensional Asian American characters, there was a price point, you know?”

But, as Tropper said, the Asian characters were always “the purpose of the show.” To that end, Warrior employs an unusual strategy regarding language: While the drama cleverly acknowledges that their first language is Cantonese, Chinese characters on Warrior usually speak to each other in unaccented English, complete with epithets and casual slang.

I want to watch this. This article legitimately made me want to watch this. I don’t have this subscription so I can’t, but Warrior seems like the kind of historical series that was made for me to bask in. And I really do like this piece that covers the extent that the show’s cast and creators have to go to in order to get the dang thing made in the first place and how it’s pushing back against accepted (and frankly racist) myths and characterization practices in Hollywood!

The photographers capturing the nuances of Chinese youth culture

China’s ‘new generation’ has come of age in a time of rapid development and political upheaval. An urban-dwelling youth, they are often characterised as individualists, with a less rigid approach to life than that of their predecessors. The rise of technology and unprecedented economic growth has led to a generation able to express themselves outside of traditional values and construct identities previously considered taboo. These seven contemporary photographers offer glimpses into Chinese youth cultures not so commonly featured in mainstream media. From evolving perceptions of gender and sexuality to the disillusionment of the ‘Chinese Dream’, they capture what it means to be young in China today.

Oh I just adore learning about queer communities and creators from around the world and there are queer photogs here putting forward their communities in ways that we haven’t seen like this before. These photos are incredible and I just want to follow all of these photographers as best as I can because  wow, what talent!

The Empire Is the World: The speculative fiction of N.K. Jemisin.

That embrace of fight over flight is a hallmark of both Jemisin’s work and her experience as a Black woman writing speculative fiction. When her debut novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, was published in 2010, she received her first death threat. Why? “For existing. Period. Nobody even knew who I was. The novel wasn’t a bestseller. It was before the awards,” she would recall in an interview. Before that, her novel The Killing Moon was rejected by publishers for being too Black, a slander that was retracted after she became a known name and the book found a home. After she denounced the racism she has experienced, in her 2018 acceptance speech for her third consecutive Hugo Award, the prominent science fiction writer Robert Silverberg (who edited Le Guin’s story) scoffed at her candor. “A Hugo acceptance speech should express gratitude, not anger,” he wrote to a private e-mail list.

N.K. Jemisin is one of my heroes. I love her work, I love her voice (like her literal voice and way of speaking), and I love that she has so many weak weirdo racists shook. I think a lot of people don’t get how easy it is to set racists off. All Jemisin had to do was write a good book (a great book) and people came for her. She was writing well and getting success and that meant people needed to try and tear her down. I still can’t get over Silverberg feeling so comfortable dissing Jemisin – or the way that people at the time expressed shock and dismay that “people were still like that”. This is the genre whose fandom (and several of its still-active authors and reviewers) brought us Racefail 09 with zero tangible consequences handed out after the fact and you’re surprised that in 2018 people were still Bad At Racism? Ridiculous!

CL Would Like to Reintroduce Herself

CL is Chae-rin reinforced in leather, steel, and foundation. Her fingernails are honed and augmented into weapon-grade claws. Her hair is a luminescent gray — less like an overcast sky, more like a dusty nebula. Without question, it’s fair to say that CL is the most famous K hip-hop artist alive, an icon of a young genre that refracts the aesthetics of hip-hop for a somewhat distant culture. She’s a byproduct of an increasingly global music culture — a radiant spark between colliding worlds.

CL is one of my favorite rappers and she was one of my earliest introductions to Korean hip hop… by way of Korean pop via 2NE1. I am so glad that she’s no longer with YG Entertainment and that it looks like she’s going to bring her best self to the table with more creative freedom than she’s had before. This is a great feature of one of the biggest icons to come from K-pop so far, and I’m really hyped for her upcoming album.

You Never Walk Alone: The Black ARMY Coalition’s Mission To Uplift Black BTS Fans

The BAC’s motto, “You Never Walk Alone,” comes from BTS’ second album. But the phrase embodies how the Black Army Coalition provides a place where Black fans don’t have to feel isolated in their love for BTS. Day and Leah described how it can be taxing as a Black BTS fan or Black K-pop fan to find acceptance within the community, which can often keep Black fans and their concerns on the outskirts.

“We can’t speak for any fandom specifically or even a specific fan because every Black K-pop fan may have different experiences than others for better or worse. Generally speaking however, being a Black K-Pop fan often feels exclusive; which often forces us to create our own lanes,” they said. “Sometimes it seems that we are attacked on both ends of the spectrum; from non-Black K-Pop fans and Black non-K-pop fans.”

I think and talk a lot about being Black in K-pop fandom spaces. While it’s definitely been… a lot, I also recognize that because of how I choose to engage with these fandom spaces, I have missed a lot of backlash even though I talk plainly about antiblackness here and do some fair share of thirsting on main as well. I do a lot of my fandom-ing in DMs, have a not immediately fannish profile layout, and now, with my account locked, that’s extra protection for me. So my experience in ARMY has been really positive in a way I didn’t expect and I haven’t had the issues that the creators of the BAC have had – not because they don’t exist, because they obviously do – but because I’ve been so burned by other fandoms that I’ve decided to exist via some level of stealth fandoming-ing. Anyway, I’m really proud of the Black ARMY Coalition and I was honored to write for them in the issue of their magazine mentioned in the article.

Adepero Oduye’s The Falcon & The Winter Soldier Storyline Is The MCU Reality Check We’ve Been Waiting For

“We don’t even have to go into all of it, but it’s been such a year, and so much of what’s happened is real for so many of us,” Oduye shared. “And we can’t look away from it, so we’re tackling it now. We would be fooling ourselves to not go there because there are real lives and spirits that are going through similar things right this second.”

“We’re talking about what it means for a character like Sam Wilson to grapple with the mantle of Captain America,” she said. “No matter who you are or how high you can fly [like Sam], there are still the people who can only see what’s on the surface. And I love that that nuance is finally being tackled because that’s real life.”

Sarah Wilson has managed to be an understated delight in The Falcon & The Winter Soldier. Her actress, Adepero Oduye is similarly awesome. In this interview, she talks about her role in the show but also the impact she feels it’ll have thanks to the storyline on systemic antiblackness that is oriented around her character, Sam Wilson, and former super-soldier Isaiah Bradley. I think it’s really an interesting look at this story from someone who actually participated in its performance and it did make me rethink some of my rejection of how the story has been told so far!


One thought on “Link Lineup – April 2021

  1. ‘As long as there are only one, two, or a handful of us, however, I presume in a field such as science fiction, where many of its writers come out of the liberal-Jewish tradition, prejudice will most likely remain a slight force—until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.’

    This was written by Samuel R. Delaney back in 1998, in the New York Review of Science Fiction, a little before Jemisin’s time, but he was right about it! As soon as the number of women, gay, queer adjacent, and yeah, Black people, started reaching a certain percentage in this area, we would see a rise in racist behavior from white people.

    There’s ALWAYS white backlash when we start to assert ourselves in any endeavor, from politics, to writing, to movies, tv, and even fandom, all areas of society that seem unrelated, but will become moreso as white people lash out at people they perceive as interlopers into some area of life they believe they own. It’s as predictable as the weather.

    This happens all the time. We saw it with gamergate, we’re seeing it now in movies and tv, and we saw it in the SciFi writing genre, over the past five years.


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