Hostile Takeover to Hospitable Communities: Thank You!

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, this year we had a referendum on whether or not the UK should stay a member of the EU. Sadly, we as a nation, decided to leave the EU. In the wake of that, racist, religious and homophobic attacks (physical and verbal) has increased drastically.

One group who have taken a lot of the brunt of this has been the Muslim community. They’ve been taking shit from people for years and years and have always responded with respect, dignity and love, even to those who are cruel and abusive to them. I have always loved and admired the Muslim community for how unconditionally caring they are and tried to help raise awareness about and demystify Islam with the help of some friends. You can read about that here.

Time and time again, they’ve shown me compassion, love and friendship when I need it most and when I’m, quite frankly, a terrible friend. And it’s not just me either. (Side note: I shouldn’t have to say this, but that doesn’t mean my other friends from other faiths aren’t equally as nice.)

Recently, some friends of mine took over my Facebook and posted that I’d converted to Islam. And while that wasn’t true, it did, once again show just how wonderful the Muslim community is.

While lots of my friends thought this was true, I had loads of calls from my Muslim friends. Every single one of them was so happy to hear that I had converted to Islam. I had to disappoint them all one by one but the love and acceptance they showed me while they thought it was true was incredible. They offered me help, invited me to their mosques, invited me for food and offered to teach me about Islam. They welcomed me into their community with no questions, no judgments and with positivity and love.

Even when I did my Fast for a Friend thing, one of my friends bought me dinner for iftar all the way from Bury. I was invited by so many of my friends’ friends to iftar at their houses. They were willing to welcome a complete stranger who wasn’t even Muslim, to eat with them and pray with them and learn with them during Ramadan. I even got a few tweets from SuperSaf showing support (one of my favourite tech YouTubers).

I am constantly blown away by the Muslim community and their welcoming nature. I really hope that you can experience Islam the way I have, from an outside perspective but with the same love that I’ve seen.

Do NOT let mainstream media and pieces of shit horrible people like Trump convince you that Islam is evil. The greatest threat to the world isn’t Islam. It’s horrible, closed minded, racist, religiously discriminatory people. They’re the greatest threat to the world.

I’m so grateful to my Muslim friends. You all teach me how to be a better person and I do not know what I’d do without you all. I’m going to try to spread as much joy and goodness as all of you. Thank you!

A

“Not Really Such Thing As Racism, Just Opinion”

I can’t believe I’m saying this but “Not really such a thing as racism, just opinion” is a thing that an actual human being said on my Facebook. Racism doesn’t exist apparently. We’re all being super sensitive, we’re weak minded and we’re pathetic people for bitching and moaning about being treated differently.

I made a couple of posts recently about how certain races are represented in mainstream media on my Facebook and one on my blog here. I am by no means an expert on race. All I know is that it’s pretty obvious when people are being belittled, ridiculed and made to look like lesser human beings. Sometimes it’s outright disrespect. Other times it’s veiled as a political piece. The shitstorm on my personal Facebook started when I posted about how angry I was about this particular piece of news racist bullshit. The same person who denied that racism exists said that just after having said “I was hoping you were Asian and Black so that we would have two reasons to discriminate against you”.

If you really want to watch it, I’ll oblige. I warn you though. It’s garbage. It’s not news.

All you have to do is look at the comments on the video to see that it’s offended people but there are somehow also a shit ton of people who for some reason feel the need to defend this shit. If the people this is about are offended, take a fucking hint. It’s fucking disgusting.

Of course, somehow racists found their way to my Facebook post (even though I don’t know any of them) and started mouthing off that I was being overly sensitive and a whiny, weak-minded bitch. Apparently, we’d all be better off if we’d (people of colour [POC]) stop being such pathetic excuses for human beings. POC have spent hundreds of years being raped, murdered and having their land, resources and cultures stolen and are STILL having to prove themselves to not be inferior. This isn’t just about Chinese people either, Black people across the world, Latinx people, Hispanic people, people from the Middle East, East Asians, the native people of countries like America and Australia. This kind of shit happens to all of us and it’s not okay. We won’t be the quiet subservient POC that you expect us to be.

My original post was this:

Karate is Japanese, they went to a martial arts centre with a south Korean flag (amongst others, but not Chinese), Mr Miyagi isn’t Chinese, this American dude is a piece of shit. Respect to the last guy. He knew what was going on. Fox news and Watters/Oreilly are saying it was all in good fun. How about I take the piss out of American stereotypes. They’re fat, white, racist scumbags who murder and incarcerate thousands of black people every year and think they’re better than everyone else. Not nice is it? Fuck it, it’s all in good fun.

There are tons of other things I could list about that video that are very obviously racist. I won’t bother though. We’d be here for days. After all the comments on Facebook from random ALL WHITE Americans, my friends and I tried to inform them with logic, facts, statistics and literal dictionary definitions and some times even tried to appeal to their sense of empathy. Well played, Alex. Empathy? These people? No chance. They also told me words don’t matter. Walk up to a Black person and call them the N word. See if it matters then. People get brave on the internet, in person, I highly doubt they’d be so willing to say the kind of shit they said to us last night.

However, I do want to say thank you to all of my friends, of all races and ethnicities, who argued back with these random racists, who have shown support on my statuses following the incident, and have sent me messages, texts, calls etc. to make sure that I’m not too upset and have sent me real message of support. POC can speak for themselves but my friends and allies from white communities help so much by helping to tackle ignorance and hatred in their communities. I appreciate you all and I’m proud to know you all.

One friend asked me if I’m on some sort of racist watchlist. I have no idea if I am, but if my speaking up about race is getting me on racist watchlists, I must be doing something right eh?

Racism is real and is a serious problem that is literally killing POC. Don’t forget it, don’t let it happen, don’t stay quiet.

A

P.S. I fully expect some racists to come on here and comment and bitch and moan too. You will be blocked, your comments deleted and your existence forgotten.

A little more Serotonin

So earlier this year, I got my serotonin tattoo and I loved it. You can find my previous post about it here. Primarily it was a tattoo for me to enjoy and to remind myself that I have survived my depression and anxiety for years. A secondary objective was that it would help open up a dialogue between people about mental health and would eventually, alongside this blog, allow me to encourage people to talk about their mental health as though it was their physical health.

The tattoo was certainly not something that I’d be writing a follow up blog about, but here we are! It’s been as amazing for myself as expected but it’s certainly helped a lot of people learn about mental health and has got a lot of people talking to me about their mental health which has resulted in me referring them to various services and quite a few have even ended up seeking help from their doctors.

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Back when it was fresh

The greatest experience I’ve had though was at work one day. I was running a session for a group in Shrewsbury and lots of them asked me about it so we paused the session and had a great open discussion about the tattoo and why I got it. My session was completely derailed but I had the opportunity to be really open about my mental health and they were able to have a really open discussion.

After I got home, I’d received a message from the people who organised it telling me that the discussion had gone on long after my session had ended. This was literally the best news I’d heard.

To me, my tattoo is art. And to think that a simple bit of art done by a random guy in Southgate (who talked a lot about smoking weed which was a little concerning while he was sticking a needle into my arm) has had such an impact on people.

As always, I’m not trying to blow smoke up my own arse, it’s just amazing how something so small and seemingly insignificant can help to tackle stigma, open discussions and challenge perceptions on a topic.

Still here, still awesome

The little things matter. I’m not saying you have to get a tattoo to open up discussions about mental health. I’m just challenging you all to find a small thing that you can do in your day to day life that will help people to be more open about the issues that affect them. It could be something as simple as challenging questionable view about racial stereotypes (which we should all be doing) or telling a story of how an issue has affected you or someone you know.

It could be anything. Just don’t do nothing.

A

 

Culture, Identities and Representation.

So while I’ve been off sick I’ve had lots of time to think. Lots of time to try to understand the world, discover things in books, in pop culture and in everything else, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own culture, identities and representation. This will be a different kind of post (and significantly longer too) so let me know if you want to see more of this kind of post.

I, along with many others, have grown a little tired of being so woefully under-represented in mainstream media. I’m not just talking about Chinese people, I’m talking about people of colour in general. Obviously, being Chinese, I’m going to focus mainly on representation of Chinese and Oriental people in comic books and also mainstream movies, anime etc.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a bit of a nerd. When I say a bit of a nerd I mean I’m a complete nerd. at least 50% of the content on my bookshelf is in comic form (with many, many, more digital comics) and a few years ago I picked up a Bruce Lee comic book. It was a 6 issue mini series about one of the most influential Hong Kong Chinese figures of modern times. A man known for, not only, his martial arts prowess and movies but his philosophies and incredibly deep insights into humanity, love, life, perseverance and many other topics. This comic was published between 1995-1996 and guess who wrote it? Some white dude. Okay, Mike Baron. Respected in his field, award winning and I’m sure very talented but have a look at some of the stuff Bruce was saying. “I’ve got to check my homeboys”, “Shelley, baby, sweetheart”.

You would think that such a well respected man would be represented better, even in the 90’s. It’s tough to effectively represent Chinese people, even public figureheads like Bruce Lee, without any f***ing Asian people in it. Literally everyone behind the comic. Not a single Chinese person. How often do you find the N word in comic books? Even in the 90’s. But Chink? Apparently no problem there.

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way. That’s not to say that there’s not lots more work to be done. We’ve got Shang-Chi now who, despite being the stereotypical master of kung fu, is a total BAMF. (He was also created by a pair of white dudes, Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin). We also have Amadeus Cho. A young Korean super genius who’s currently serving as the Totally Awesome Hulk. He was created by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa, a Canadian Japanese dude who does some beautiful art work. The Cassandra Cain Batgirl is a total badass too.

On the flip side we have characters like Wong. He’s the “sidekick and manservant/valet” to Dr Strange created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963. We have amazing Japanese anime films like Ghost in the Shell, which influenced the Matrix films, who are getting Hollywood adaptations where the main character is being played by Scarlett Johannson. We have Emma Stone playing a Hawaiian/Asian character in Aloha. Tilda Swinton playing the Ancient One, a Tibetan master of magic. The list goes on. So my request to white writers, if you’re going to create Asian characters, or use Asian characters, plots, adapt films, at the very least, let us represent ourselves. This is a great watch:

One of the things that the guy with the dyed grey hair says is that he’s never been described as sexy, or suave, just cute, funny and friendly. Now those words aren’t bad. They’re positive things. But put together like that, it sounds like you’re describing a child. Or a puppy.

Asian men are very very rarely allowed to be sexy or cool. Think Raj from BBT (which is a terrible show anyway) or Mosuka from Dexter, or Han Bryce Lee, the horrifically asexual Asian boss from the awful 2 Broke Girls. Almost anything that Ken Jeong is cast in (he slept with Shirley in Community but that was “disgusting” and used purely to make jokes). Danny Pudi’s Abed is only sexual when he’s playing famous white characters like Don Draper or Han Solo. Masi Oka in Heroes was pretty much asexual apart from that thing with Charlie which was short lived as she was sent to the past and he ended up single for the rest of it while several other white characters somehow had multiple relationships. How many Jackie Chan or Jet Li films end with them “getting the girl”? Don’t even get me started on the older, more outrageous films with Asian characters.

Asian women have it even worse. Lots of Asian women are depicted as being submissive, timid people who dote entirely on their man and are super sexualised and sexually compliant. This is often referred to as the “China Doll” stereotype. On the other hand you have the complete opposite as well the “Dragon Lady” the abrasive, aggressive, opportunistically sexual, gold digger type characters.

Like I said, we’re making progress. Glenn from the Walking Dead is a great character. Anything that Aziz Ansari is in is generally gold. Master of None has some great scenes about being typecast and stereotypes. The New Superman comic (which I’m buying every month) stars Kenan Kong a regular Chinese guy who, so far (I’ve only read #1. #2 is on the way) is a bit of a tool. No kung fu. No super smarts. No stereotypes. Best of all, it’s written by Gene Luen Yang a Chinese-American writer.

One day I’m hoping that campaigns like #StarringJohnCho and #StarringConstanceWu is no longer necessary. There is some incredible work though so check out the hashtags to get a good idea.

So, how can my children or my little cousins to grow up and not adhere to those stereotypes if they don’t get to see people like them in popular culture? Let’s help Asian people get more exposure in the media as regular people rather than the terrible old stereotypes of times gone by.

As mentioned before this is a slightly different kind of post. I don’t write about this stuff often but this is the tip of the ice berg. I’m keen to write more like this. Would you like to see more? Pop in a vote on that poll for me. Agree? Disagree? Pop a comment below.