It’s always so hard to pare down my links to a manageable amount rather than pouring out the entirety of my bookmarks for the month. But between last time and now, I have read some incredible things! Here’s a sampling with the usual added commentary.
Ignoring A Problem Doesn’t Make It Go Away: On Lindsay Ellis and Anti-Native Racism
She finishes her brief segment on her Twilight Apologia grievance by doing a classic “see I’m a liberal ally to the brown folks” move straight out of a JK Rowling’s tweet: adding the link to the Quileute tribe’s fundraiser to prove that she’s not racist, she cares about ACTUAL problems that the Quileute folks face. Not something as trivial as representation in Twilight but REAL problems. Clearly she cares more about indigenous issues than the indigenous people she’s arguing with.
In any case, you don’t need to be native to know there isn’t much sincerity to someone who dedicates two hours to taking shots of whiskey for every “apology” they have to make. Quite frankly it would’ve saved her time to just upload a five second Youtube video of her telling us to eat shit. The same message would’ve been delivered expeditiously.
A lot of people think that ignoring a problem like racism in media – here anti-Native racism in Twilight and Pocahontas… and Ellis’ coverage of both after the fact – will just make it go away. Add in a heaping helping of Ellis weaponizing her white womanhood and lumping in real Natives trying to educate her in with the very legitimate harassment she does get… And you’ve got a disastrous approach in one.
I thought this piece by Ali Nahdee was brilliant, insightful, and is a must-read for people who genuinely care about representation in media, fighting anti-Native racism, and holding ourselves and our favorite content creators accountable. In this country, Indigenous communities are mistreated and misrepresented as the norm. Media is one of the biggest ways that their cultures are repackaged – often being boiled down to a single experience set up to serve for the whole – and it’s important to recognize when we and our favorite/popular cultural critics drop the ball on recognizing that.
Almost half of all Asian roles serve as a punchline, study finds
Yuen said these depictions are longstanding and can seriously affect how Asian girls grow up viewing themselves.
“We have the intersection of racism and sexism for Asian women who aren’t just disempowered but also exploited,” she said. “It’s really hard for young Asian women to see themselves as leaders or as anything more than that especially when these images have an impact on the way they’re treated in society.”
Continuing on then note of representation… I think I’ve posted links to other articles about how Hollywood’s history of Asian (American) media is… bad. This one, someone linked to me earlier in the month – I can’t remember who, sorry – but it made me think about how popular culture specifically serves a particular purpose that people don’t always clock? I know a recent – worrying – trend in online fandom spaces is to pretend that propaganda looks like this sort of thing… but it’s bigger than that.
When it comes to popular culture/media, propaganda doesn’t always look like Birth of a Nation or Reefer Madness. It can actually often look like the media portrayals of marginalized people in order to influence how people in and outside of the group view themselves. The way that Asian characters are stereotyped in a lot of “classic” and current media… partially the purpose of influencing how people understand what it means to be Asian. In and out of different diasporas who’ve been lumped together under “Asian”. And it’s not always done well as you can see.
Hell Hath No Fury: The Importance of Black Women’s Rage in Music
The late June Jordan wrote, “The purpose of polite behavior is never virtuous.” Anger is read as disrespectful, especially when it radiates from Black women. It makes people squirm as they anticipate our next word and deed. There are some who cannot stand under the weight of their own emotion and are incapable of dealing with the potential their anger provides. Luckily, there are Black female artists who are just waiting for someone to press play. May their rage be with you and guide you toward embracing your own.
I get accused of being angry very often when people read my work. They read my work – which is largely absent of my tone – and insert their own assumptions into it because I swear. (Newsflash, as a grown ass adult, I get to say “fuck”. If that offends you, it’s literally a YOU problem.) They also refuse to listen to me read my own work or talk about my experiences in my podcast but then decide that not only am I vibrating with rage… but if I was that angry about racism in fandom or media, it would negate my message about racism being wrong.
However, I am rarely angry. I’m often annoyed. But ultimately, you’ll know when I’m finally angry in truth because it will end very poorly for the person pissing me off.
It’s very frustrating to have your anger (or the perception of such) used to invalidate your work on racism or your feelings about being subjected to it… by people literally spewing hate and anger on main. I’m not angry, not usually, but you know who are actually mad? The people pretending that them saying “fuck that whore” about me is a measured critique that I’m trying to dodge by “playing the race card”.
Can We Fix America’s Food-Appropriation Problem? If you’re only focused on the outrage, you’re missing the point.
A few days after the story first broke, I was interviewed by USA Today. For close to an hour, I answered questions about the history and cultural significance of congee, and why Breakfast Cure sparked such a strong reaction from Asians. I drew on my experience as a former consumer-insight researcher based in China, and talked at length about how Taylor’s Chinese-medicine-focused brand positioning is extremely common in China, and about the popularity and versatility of congee that’s available to Chinese consumers. I emphasized that there’s nothing particularly sacred about the dish, that anyone can make it, but that it doesn’t make it okay for a white woman to anoint herself the Queen of Congee.
I’m currently mildly fixated on entitlement as a facet of racism. I talked about experiencing it earlier in the month (other people’s entitlement to me, not my own) and it shook a few things into place for me with how a huge portion of racism is this entitlement to the time, energy, and cultures of people of color. I remember when the white lady appropriating congee was running around, there were takes on my timeline like “lol anyone could make it and so her charging tons for it was wild” but thankfully I follow people who get that the harm of cultural appropriation is the entitlement to the culture. It’s the racism behind “I can – I get to – do your thing but better“.
Anyway, I think this piece is great and I hope people learn from it!
“Light On Me” Stars On Taekyung’s Endgame, BL Dramas & That Dildo Scene
“Just like how all of our fans, CHOICE, are different in their own special ways,” Jun tells Teen Vogue, “we know that there [are] a range of different ways to love among all kinds of people in this world which we acknowledge and respect. It was really exciting for A.C.E. to be able to contribute ‘SPARK’ as the first song to the Light On Me original television soundtrack, as the listener can hear us detail the unique and intense moment when a new romance is taking over someone’s body. We hope that listeners enjoy ‘SPARK’ and also hope BL dramas like Light On Me and others in the future can help break down prejudices and create a more equal world for all.”
I actually don’t watch a lot of BL dramas anymore – shocking, I’m sure. (I’m working my way through one now though!) But when I was a teenager on aarinfantasy or other online forums – the only way to get English subtitles for content well over a decade ago – I devoured Japanese BL like it was my life. It was a form of representation for me and it gave me a necessary insight to queerness outside of my corner.
Where I’m going with this is that I agree with June from A.C.E. (who I adore fully, he’s a great guy) about the future that BL dramas may be able to provide and the representation they do provide. I’m hoping for a brighter, more welcoming future and I’m very proud of A.C.E. for doing more OST work especially on a project like this!
The Continued Harassment Of Noname Highlights The Narrow Margin Of Error For Black Women
Many are quick to jump on Noname when she says anything remotely challenging about figures, practices, or systems that they don’t like. And people do the same to other Black women with large social media platforms such as CHIKA and Lizzo, both of whom’s size coupled with their Blackness and womanhood make the harassment they receive even more frequent and pointed. What’s clear, at this point, is people’s hostility for Noname exposes the resentment people have towards Black women who don’t settle for the status quo simply because it’s familiar.
Online harassment for Black women and femmes… never ends. It’s never allowed to. It’s a long-term community bonding event for so many people and when Black women or femmes that “mess up” in any way are seen as perfect targets for continued violence. If something can be found that justifies what people do to us for years, it will be used. If nothing can be found, it will be made up. I love Noname doing her best and actively trying to be a better person. I’m rooting for her and for the world she’s trying to bring into being. You should be too.
Tteokbokki a hit overseas as the world chows down Korean style
K-pop stars and influencers get major credit for the increasing popularity of tteokbokki in the world markets.
In June last year, a picture of Jimin of boy band BTS eating tteokbokki in front of a street vendor near Dongdaemun Market, central Seoul, went viral online. The picture spread all over the world using the hashtags on social media like Instagram and Twitter.
Some of Jimin’s magic moved to tteokbokki, and since then, many foreigners have been uploading videos of them trying tteokbokki on YouTube.
Soon after the photo went viral, U.S.-based entertainment media outlet Allkpop released a report titled, “BTS Jimin increased the world interest toward Tteokbokki after his visit to a local Tteokbokki street stall.”
The wee niece Meems actually asked for tteokbokki for her gift for going to her next level of school. I have… not actually gotten it for her yet because I forgot, but tteokbokki is something that became a dish my niecelings enjoy eating. It appeals to our caribbean sensitivities and our desire to eat all the spice, it’s bright red, and it’s also just a great texture – especially at the restaurant we’d go to pre-pandemic which had really good fishcake with their tteokbokki.
I’m also really hyperaware of what connects us as people and something I know draws people together is… eating. If I get to go on my Korea trip, a huge goal is for me to connect with friends and acquaintances in Korea over a good meal. If any of my pals came to Florida, I’d feed them something delicious! I think the cultural connections we make through cooking and eating together are pretty great and I’m glad that Jimin having some tteokbokki made an impact worldwide because that’s some good food, y’all!
Superman The Jew: History Of A People Through The World’s Greatest Hero
The Superman who debuted in Action Comics #1 in June of 1938 (three years before the Nazis marched into Kovno — the pattern had not yet repeated itself) would be largely unfamiliar to most modern readers. When we first meet him following a condensed one-page origin, he is barging into the manorial home of his state’s governor, cracking wise and roughing up the hired help while demanding to see the governor. His mission? A race against time to save the life of an unjustly condemned man on death row. Two pages later, he’s at it again: this time, it’s a brutishly abusive husband who attracts his ire. Charging unexpectedly into the scene of the attack, hurling the abuser against the wall, Superman cracks wise while dispensing justice: “You’re not fighting a woman now!” This is not obedient defender of the status quo lampooned by Frank Miller in his Dark Knight Returns four decades later. This is not even the all-American happy warrior of the World War II era. This, the primordial Superman of Siegel and Shuster, is an outsider among the masses; a fighter on the behalf of the voiceless and the oppressed. It is stressed at all times that he is visibly and openly not like us: “He’s not human!” exclaims the shellshocked governor. “Thank heaven he’s apparently on the side of law and order!” So this is the story of a man who knows he does not belong. Does that make him a Jew?
A lot of my current readers weren’t here for my undergrad and graduate work on comics. (Actually… none of you were here for the undergrad stuff as I graduated in 2012 and never made that work public – let me know if y’all want any of that uploaded somewhere despite how rough it is!)
Anyway, I love that US comics are clearly Jewish culture that became part of the US’s pop culture lexicon. Their origin stories are largely Jewish like the men (and some of the rare women) who got to work on them. I love so much of what Superman represents now, this is a character who’ll always mean a lot to me, but being reminded of the things Superman originally stood for and how he was originally written is just… always something I’m always down to be reminded of.
Queering History, Archiving the Future: In Search of Taiwanese Lesbian History
The construction of the lesbian archive and the compilation of oral histories in Grandma’s Girlfriends are both examples of queering history through the “archive as subject,” allowing participants, activists, and scholars to collaborate and maximize their potential. These initiatives also ensure the continuation and preservation of queer experience and intangible memories, bringing the present and future together. This work of queering envisions not only a rehabilitation of the histories of sexual minorities, but also the creation of community and a space for more diverse histories to be written and imagined.
I know that the annoying masses may think I’m anti archives because of my critiques of the Archive of Our Own (in part because I don’t think it’s a real archive…) but I love this. I love queer archival history. I love queer people worldwide putting together the pieces to their historical puzzles, figuring out who came before us and where they’re going now. I loved this piece about Taiwanese lesbian history because it throws me back to early work I did in grad school on the lesbian herstory archive back in the day. 10/10, I recommend reading.
Amal El-Mohtar – Peach Creamed Honey
This poem is so hornt y’ll. So hornt. El-Mohtar’s poem started being recommended around the same time as a really atrocious erotic poem – by an entitled white man about a woman of color he was thrusting orientalism upon – started picking up steam in literary circles. It’s held up as a way to do erotic poetry well and without crossing a subject’s boundaries, the way that the poem that shall not be named really did.
You can find a copy of this poem in The Honey Month (this is an affiliate link!)
What It Means to Exist: Bethany C. Morrow, TJ Kline, and Naomi Wiens on Sci-Fi for Teens
Bethany C. Morrow on worldbuilding for white people:
I have to do the same amount of worldbuilding that somebody who is writing a fantasy would have to do, because you have intentionally been lied to. And there’s also that intentional denial. So I have to actually build the world you live in for you. That’s why when you look at any white, very popular book or series or movie or anything, almost all of them are fantastical. Number one, because it’s always a white protagonist. Number two, because they’re always surrounded almost entirely by white people, no matter where they are in the country. It’s false. It’s fiction. Small towns that are 100 percent white that don’t talk about the intentionality of a lily-white, unnaturally lily-white, small town. If you don’t deal with why this town is lily-white, this is fantasy.
I remember when I was in the Sleepy Hollow fandom, one of my stories – the one where Abbie uses a satin cap – lowkey blew up in the fandom. I got all of these responses from other Black people like “oh my gosh, I needed to read this” and “oh thank god you understand how Black hair works”. And there were people who were like “ooh a satin cap sounds fancy, why is she wearing that to go do bed?”
There are white people who grew up on the same island as me, at the same time, who don’t know half of what I know about the history of the island… because of what was important to them/their families at the time. The stories they tell about the USVI are not going to be the same as the ones I tell about those islands and the people there. Because we fundamentally, even post-segregation, live in different worlds and are fed different experiences.
It’s a smaller version of what Bethany is kind of talking about, but it’s a moment in my fic-writing life that made me realize that people really don’t have the same experiences. I remember reading once, somewhere, that readers of color don’t have to work to walk a mile in white characters’ shoes because modern popular culture in the US/Europe orients itself around whiteness.
So when we write, especially white characters, we have that prior knowledge so strong that it impacts how we write ourselves. But then when we’re writing our characters, we have to think about what the wider (whiter) world doesn’t know about us. What cultural things are unknown. What histories are mysteries.
SUGA: “This is the only thing I know how to really do”
BTS has really grown and changed a lot, starting with “No More Dream” and all the way to “Permission to Dance.”
SUGA: I think it’s a natural course of event for those of us who make pop music. Artists mix and match different genres as they grow, and the music develops as the people of its time listen to it. I’ve been listening to a ton of music lately, and thanks to the times we live in, if I listen to a song a few times, they recommend me more songs in a similar style. And after listening to them, I realized the style of hip hop is also changing and is splitting off into different offshoots. Other than hip hop, I also listen to a lot of instrumental music. I’ve always liked Hans Zimmer’s music. There have been many times where a movie I like turns out to have music by Hans Zimmer.
I was torn between linking to Namjoon’s interview or Yoongi’s because they’re both super interesting and relevant to something I’m trying to work on for September in time for Namjoon’s birthday. But there’s something about this segment in particular that spoke to me… I’ve been listening to BTS’ music kind of in-depth, doing my own deep-dives and trying to familiarize myself with the different forms of hip-hop that they’re pulling from and adapting in their work. There are artists, however, that I’ve started listening to because I’ve been recommended their worn as complementing BTS’, and that’s been a lot of fun.
I literally just told a friend that Yoongi is one of the most relatable members of the group to me and this interview really sinks that in. He’s also one of the most inspiring because of his passion for music, his devotion to creating new and fresh things, and the anxiety he feels about going stagnant. Hearing his take on their creative evolution – especially since the English singles “Dynamite”, “Butter”, and “Permission to Dance” are kind of super different from their previous original work in Korean and Japanese and so it’s interesting to “hear” him talk about working on these tracks. And the difference between the different songs makes some sense because of the markets, by the way. There are differences between the Korean and Japanese singles as well.
Anyway, great interview! I love that BTS gets to do these interviews with people who get them and their music/career trajectory so they then ask good questions!
Witches Have No Homes: Magic, Transformation, and Going Over the Rainbow
Becoming a witch—becoming a girl—does not mean destruction. It means restoration, a miracle of fearsome power.
So it meant the world to me to write a heroine with light-up magenta hair whose magic covers everything with lucent lavender flowers, as if straight out of a glammy girls’ cartoon, and who rebels with her magic and her womanhood. She rebels, and wins, and makes a home. She gets to finally be good, because she was allowed to be bad. It’s true that good witches and bad are the same, but because being a bad witch saves her. It saves her because it saved me. In this way writing is a straight path across the desert—you just tell the truth.
May is one of the best romance and fantasy writers out there. Her brilliance, her skill with words, obviously extends to non-fiction as well. I loved this essay she did for Tor about witches and the role that fantasy they featured in played in her childhood and her present. Her use of language is powerful and the experiences she talks about as a nonbinary transfem are so moving.
I really do love this essay a ton and of course, obviously, I recommend it! (Fun fact, by the way, I loved The Wizard of Oz but when I watched it as a child, I couldn’t sleep for days because of it!)
Leave Fat Black Women The F*ck Alone
We must connect the dots between fatphobia, misogynoir, and transphobia, because they are fruit of the same poisonous tree. When we participate in the perpetuation of these oppressions by demeaning and endangering the lives of fat people, queer people, sexual women and all those who sit at these intersections, we’re acquiescing to the myth that the closer we get to achieving white supremacist ideals, the better our chances are of attaining safety and freedom.
But there is no safety or freedom under white supremacy.
Black womanhood is always conditional under a patriarchy that requires straight white men to govern and enforce it at their pleasure and rescind it at their whim. White women might be safer than any women of color are under white supremacy, but they are not safe either. They are not free.
Watching Lizzo cry on that live she just about fucking broke me. I’m so fucking mad.
How dare people talk to or about her like this? How fucking dare they make their issues with her something that she needs to see or deal with? And that ignorant ass “as a lightskinned Black woman, I” moomoo who called Lizzo a “mammy” –
What the fuck?
Every single time Lizzo releases new music or tweets something or exists publicly in anyway, the harassment kicks up again. Like this article points out, Lizzo can’t get a McDonald’s meal like Saweetie did (with her gross ass food struggle/suffering combinations…) because society will mock her and concern troll. If she posts a thirst trap, it will be dissected and she will be dehumanized.
She’s not allowed to live her best life… because she’s fat, dark-skinned, and sexy with a voice that won’t fucking quit. Fuck anyone with beef with Lizzo or who thinks her body gives them the right to speak on her like she’s not a human.
White Woman Tears Got A Liberal A Bestseller
One thing white women love to do when they are defensive is claim they are being “attacked” whenever Black people or people of color call them out. It implies violence and harm and white women intentionally use it because they know that people are going to interpret it as such.
Oh wow was this a familiar read. I understand that no one likes to feel like their heat are being held to the fire, but people do not get how often racist white women claim that a reasonable call out (or a “lol why dumplings, white lady” shitpost) is being “attacked”. Or why they do it.
Pippa, the woman at the center of this shitshow, purposeful played the “woe is me, i am scared and under attack” card while Roslyn was already ACTIVELY besieged by white supremacists. So of course, they ramped things up in her name because they knew that she was hurting and upset and so they had to defend her.
And now her book is a bestseller, Roslyn’s mentions and inbox are full of racist threats, and… no one cares that Pippa publicly thanked channers for launching her book to the top of the charts out of racism. Because she was sad and now they’ve fixed that.
I read a lot in August… somehow? But I’m here for your interesting links! Lemme have them!