Those Beautiful Children
As a member of the mixed race club, I deal with people’s reactions to my appearance all the time. When I came across Callahan’s ruminations on rude/insensitive/ignorant remarks from a parent’s perspective, I thought “How wonderful it is to know that parents think about these things. That they want to help their children navigate their racial identity with honesty and self affirmation.
Here comes the big however.
A study (1) published in the June issue of the Journal of Asian American Studies suggests that the racial identity of children carried more weight/worry for Asian American mothers of mixed race children than it does for white fathers. It’s a small-sample, qualitative study of dual-professional mixed marriages. I’d love to read more about different permutations of interracial marriages, across class lines, and with a wider geographic dispersion. Because its an interesting conversation. Let’s continue that conversation, asking questions like:
How does my personal racial identity affect my choice of life partners?
How does my personal racial identity, and that of my partner, affect my children’s identity?
What are the compounding factors that make this conversation even more complex?
1. Chong, K. H.(2013). Relevance of Race: Children and the Shifting Engagement with Racial/Ethnic Identity among Second-Generation Interracially Married Asian Americans. Journal of Asian American Studies 16(2), 189-221. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved August 20, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
After about a month away, and some serious consideration, I’m back on the blog. And trying something new. For the next few months, I’ll be researching how Asian American populations have been represented in metadata and using this blog to keep track of the research process. You’ll get to see what I’m reading, how my methodology evolves, and how the research comes together. Bonus for me, I’ll have a public venue to keep myself on schedule.
Does anyone else do this?
Hopefully no one out there takes my ideas (it’s difficult to imagine anyone doing it, but horror stories abound…).
Why the change? I’d like to contribute something unique to the intellectual record and I don’t see anyone combining Asian American Studies with Library and Information Sciences. I’d like to continue to challenge myself and my audience at this blog, and to keep it interesting for everyone.
More to come soon!
If you’re looking for something to do this March (I’m looking at you, students!), but you don’t have a passport, join the Librotraficante smuggling banned books across the great American Southwest:
Or you can visit the press release here. The tour starts next Tuesday in Houston, TX.
I’ve had some conversations with people, about the choice of linking the language of banned books to undocumented immigrants (traficante, wetbooks) as well as the abolition movement (underground libraries). To be sure, its a political choice, saying that any attempt to erase a history is analogous to trying to declare a class of people illegal. To be sure, fans of immigration reform may be less sympathetic to the cause or feel offended by the vocabulary. But did you watch the video? If you can’t have fun in the face of hard times, you may not ever have fun.
Seriously though, illegalizing a people and illegalizing the history of a people. Both are acts of silencing and erasure. Both represent one group of people telling another “We are in charge. You play by our rules, or you don’t play at all.” And the rules they want are a little bit uneven.
Thanks to Debbie Reese, who commented with a link to her blog on how we can all get involved in supporting Mexican American Studies, and the return of its related books, to Arizona classrooms. Why is it important? Reese gives this example:
Norma Gonzales, a teacher who taught Mexican American History was reassigned to teach American History and given a textbook that says that the Tohono O’odham people mysteriously vanished. She has two Tohono O’odham students in her class. Ironically, students who took the Mexican American Literature courses read Ofelia Zepeda’s Ocean Power. She is Tohono O’odham and received the MacArthur Genius Grant for her work. In MAS, curriculum reflected who they are. In the core curriculum, they have “mysteriously disappeared.”
So visit http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2012/01/nation-wide-responses-to-shut-down-of.html and get in on a piece of the action.
Librarians have a big organization called the American Library Association (ALA). The ALA has several ethnic caucuses, promoting library materials and services for and by people of color. Those groups, and you can find the whole list in the following link, decided to say something about the attack on ethnic studies in Arizona.
If you don’t know, Arizona banned ethnic studies in schools in 2010. This past January, Tuscon Unified School District released a list of books they wanted removed from bookshelves, including classics like Paulo Friere’s “Pedagogy of the Opressed”, Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Rethinking Columbus”, and William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. And this past weekend, librarians got together to say this is NOT OK.
This is ridiculous. These are nationally recognized books, and I’m not sure what Arizona thinks they are accomplishing by restricting access of widely available materials to elementary and high school students. I know what they’ll get though– students who are unexposed to basic texts in multiple disciplines; students without critical thinking skills because they have grown up in an environment where their intellectual and cultural freedom is constrained. Ethnic Studies is not about rewriting history to privilege people of color. It’s about recognizing that history has already been written to privilege Euro-American history, and that’s not the whole picture. It’s about the freedom to think critically about the narrative presented to you and make your own decision. It’s about being aware, proud or not, of everything and everyone that makes up the United States.
Read the ALA’s condemnation of Arizona’s suppression of intellectual and education freedom:
A big thank you to Sayumi Irey, over at Bellvue College, for inviting me to see her library and sit in on her class!
Sayumi Irey works as a reference librarian and teaches classes in their Cultural and Ethnic Studies Program. I got to sit in on her Intro to Asian American Studies and take a quick tour of the library. It’s fantastic, to see students at any age learning about the history and diversity in Asian American communities.
What has stuck with me the most since my visit is a small thing, comparatively. In the reference section of the library (that’s the books you can use, but can’t take out of the library) were a few encyclopedias of Asian American people/places/things. They’re handy reference guides if you’re in a library, but the general sense I get from most students in most places is that they don’t go into libraries to do quick research like that. What surprised me was that Sayumi was talking about expanding the section, not necessarily because the information wasn’t available in other places, but because she wanted all of her students, especially queer and transgendered students, to know that they were physically represented in the library. That their stories were important enough to be visibly installed in the reference section of the library.
Visual representation– in this case, being able to see aspects of yourself in institutions of power. I’ve been trying to think about what that means in the transition to internet-based libraries.
Scenario 1: You move to a new city where you don’t know anyone. Some nice couple invites you to dinner. When they serve the lasagna, you thank them and comment on how delicious the food is. We call this “normal people”.
Scenario 2: You move to a new city where you don’t know anyone. Some nice couple invites you to dinner. When they serve the lasagna, you announce that their house belongs to you and kick them to the curb. If anyone asks you why you did this you tell them that the couple fed you human babies. We call this “Discovering America”.
Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!