Irish Pride

By Lucas Costello

The first time my dad died, I was five. He was standing at the top of the staircase, proclaiming “the Chinaman kept giving me tequilas.” Then he fell flat on his face. The rest is haze: me in a room reading a Walt Disney activity book with “Kiki”, my Filipina nanny, while my Filipina mother, bawling, called the ambulance, and tall men in uniforms with stripes down their pant legs showed up to save the day.

My father didn’t actually die that night. In the end it was cancer, not directly alcohol-related, that brought him into the black. The years in-between are spotted with memories: him fighting with my mother on a night that she dumped out all of his expensive scotch; me, still a child, waking up to find out that he had driven our TransAm into a ditch. Our big alcoholic-and-son bonding moment was a night in Mexico. My mom took off after Dad refused to not drink x amounts of tequila. He ended up unable to walk, so I helped him back to the hotel room. It was Angela’s Ashes meets Wall Street, with Lionel Richie as the soundtrack. Luckily for all of us, Dad was a gentle drunk; our family didn’t have to deal with the trauma of physical abuse that so often haunts families with alcoholic parents.

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Racism, Future: Sci-Fi Authors Riff

By Jef Catapang

Poster design by Simon Yau. It would be a cool movie, right?

If you read a fair share of sci-fi (written by someone other than Octavia E. Butler), you might be prone to feeling like all this flesh-wringing about race will be looked upon as nothing more than a quaint marker of our times. A lot of sci-fi teaches us that race just won’t be an issue in the future. Besides, if there is still such thing as racism in the future it will be directed at robots, so who cares? Not us. It doesn’t matter how sexy you are, robots. We’re not buying it.

To get a deeper sense of how science fiction has dealt with the possibilities of human interaction and diversity, we called up some of Canada’s most intelligent and most out-there imaginations to talk sci-fi, race and the future of us.

Derwin Mak

The Shrine of the Siren Stone (in which an otaku anime-nerd falls in love with a Japanese girl dressed as a French maid who turns out to be an android)

On why scientific developments won’t change racism:

The concept of race is rather hard to define to begin with. Even though all the scientific research shows that people have the same DNA, that we have the same ancestors, there will always be some differences. I’m not saying those differences are good or bad, they’re just there and people will notice them.

On why ‘first contact’ won’t bring about world peace:

Often science fiction authors will say that we’ll all suddenly become one unified human race as we realize that we’re not alone. I’m going to take the opposite approach and say that the arrival of aliens will not make us see ourselves any more unified than we already were.

A good example is when the Europeans came to North America. That did not end the squabbling or the warfare amongst the Native American or Canadian First Nations tribes. They still fought against each other, and indeed, they even sought out alliances between the English, French and the Spanish against each other. So I don’t think that the arrival of aliens will make human ethnic groups feel like they have any more or less in common than they do now. Unless, of course, we end up being common prey.

Suzette Mayr

Moon Honey (in which an 18-year-old white waitress suddenly turns Black)

On everyone being beige in the future:

When I go to Toronto, I’m always struck by all these mixed-race couples, children, and people that I see. That it’s actually in ads now, which to me suggests some sort of acceptance in the mainstream of this as being normal—in quotation marks. You don’t see it as much in Calgary. You see it on the street but you don’t necessarily see it reflected in the media. And I remember someone telling me statistics about Japanese-Canadians, about how they’re gradually kind of disappearing as they’re inter-marrying with other races. My feeling is that perhaps what will happen is we’ll have this blending as we go. On the other hand, there’s tons of Islamophobia. I think about the Tea Party, and all the kind of stuff that’s happening in the United States, which suggests a return to segregation rather than an inter-mixing.

On our increasing capability to control what our bodies look like:

Weirder and weirder things are happening for beauty. People are altering their faces and looking more and more like cats. I wonder—there’s a certain kind of aesthetic that goes with bi-racial Asian people that seems to be fetishized and seen as beautiful. And what about these lips that people are getting, these kind of big lips? I don’t know. Are people wanting lips like Black people?

On why racism is here to stay:

There will always be an underclass and there will always be racial undertones associated with that. Think about the historical movement towards the prairie, where the desirables and the so-called whites were English people or Scottish people, and then the Irish came and they were black. And once they were integrated, well, the Italians were black. Then the Ukranians and now it’s the visible minorities. I think that’s just the way we’re genetically engineered: to be mean to somebody, to find justification to exploit somebody else or treat somebody else poorly.

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Ethnic! Xmas! Drama! 2011 Edition

  1. In Friday’s Globe and Mail, Damage Control columnist David Eddie fielded a question from a Chinese dude with a white fianceé. Her parents keep giving him “themed” Christmas gifts – a rice cooker, a Jackie Chan box set – which makes him feel uncomfortable. His fiancée thinks he should suck it up and so, basically, did Eddie. Unsurprisingly, not everyone agreed.
  2. First up: The ethnics are ON IT.
  3. My FAVOURITE G&M “Damage Control” column: “My white in-laws keep giving me ‘Chinese’ gifts”… attn: @ethnicaisle
    December 23, 2011 10:47:57 AM EST
  4. “Last year, my fiancée’s family gave me a rice cooker. I’m Chinese-Canadian. They’re Caucasian.” (ht @annhui @DakGlobe)
    December 23, 2011 9:03:49 AM EST
  5. good intentions are overrated. that column is so fucked up. that writer should not be giving advice.
    December 23, 2011 10:58:22 AM EST
  6. that G&M column is basically Forbes-lite in the way it completely ignores the reality of being not-white
    December 23, 2011 10:59:53 AM EST
  7. it enraged me to read the fiancee saying “get over it.” all i could think was “what a horrible relationship”
    December 23, 2011 11:02:36 AM EST
  8. WHY IS THE PICTURE ON THE COLUMN A BOWL OF RICE? @dakglobe @ghostfaceknitta
    December 23, 2011 11:08:56 AM EST
  9. Should it be two old white folks standing in the bg, out of focus, with Chinese man in front with arms crossed?
    December 23, 2011 11:12:58 AM EST
  10. @_anupa @dakglobe I cringed when I saw that too. Also, if I were her folks I would’ve assumed dude already had a rice cooker. I mean, c’mon.
    December 23, 2011 11:13:45 AM EST
  11. Canice Leung breaks it down:
  12. re: “in-laws give asian dude rice cooker/jackie chan dvds” … 1. being cute-clueless is not a defence for being racist
    December 23, 2011 1:24:04 PM EST
  13. 2. i would be BUMMED if i was marrying into a family, knew them for (probably) years, and still the only thing they saw was my ethnicity.
    December 23, 2011 1:24:39 PM EST
  14. 3. i would really love a rice cooker, but actually. but that’s because i love cooking, not because i’m chinese.
    December 23, 2011 1:26:22 PM EST
  15. 4. only a white dude advice columnist would defend that. people can’t be forgiven for doing bad things just cause they had good intentions.
    December 23, 2011 1:27:54 PM EST
  16. 5. i am normally a fan of david eddie’s writing, which is why this particular piece of advice is even more disappointing.
    December 23, 2011 1:28:54 PM EST
  17. Fight! Fight! Fight!
  18. @canice Excuse me? “Only a white dude advice columnist would defend that”. ONLY?! Look, stupidity comes in ALL colours, shapes and sizes.
    December 23, 2011 1:29:41 PM EST

Interracial relationships: The mid-week round-up

You guys, it’s only Wednesday and we’ve already got amazing articles that look at interracial and intercultural dating.

This is stuff you should read.

Start with the chat that started it all: Ethnichat: DNA Free Flow

Move on to Renée Sylvestre-Williams’ experience of dating interracially – her family isn’t concerned about race, just that any potential boyfriends have the same level of education, share the same values and treat her right. (It’s a long list.)

Denise Balkissoon learns, thanks to an ex-boyfriend, that people get racially confused, which can get tiresome after a while.

Jef Catapang interviews Anupa Mistry who reveals her weakness for white boys.

Being mixed-race and dating is more than just “oh, you’re gorgeous!” and “mixed babies are so cute!” Adebe DeRango-Adem takes a moment to unpack the baggage of dating and fetishization when dating interracially.

We’re not the only ones thinking about this topic:

Britain is as well. The BBC just ran a series on mixed-race Britons.

The New York Times looks at mixed-race relationships and the lingering tensions in the United States.

The Economist features author Richard Banks and his work, “Is Marriage for White People? How the African-American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone.

Guess Who’s Coming to Brunch?

“When mixed-race gets talked about in the media, it’s often automatically celebrated as a marker of socio-political progress, completely disconnected from the racial trauma of being deemed inauthentic by others, the wounds of self-questioning, and the reality of racialized violence and fetishization.”

Being mixed-race and dating is more than just “oh, you’re gorgeous!” and “mixed babies are so cute!” Adebe DeRango-Adem takes a moment to unpack the baggage of dating and fetishization when dating interracially. Continue reading