What I Learned On My Girls’ Weekend Getaway

This past weekend, a few fellow mommies and I went to SF for a Girls’ Weekend out. We lolled about, walked without considering small children, ate a ton and drank in the day time! Heck, we even drank at night! Awesome! It was so enjoyable and relaxing and truly fun. Thanks, ladies and husbands!

Here are a few things I learned this weekend on my first weekend trip without the kids in two years.

1) I didn’t really miss my children. Not even the baby. But I did talk about them at least 65% of the time and checked in with Hapa Papa every few hours.

2) Hapa Papa did fantastic with all three kids – even without having lactating breasts! Clearly, this is a sign that I need to leave more often.

3) Getting to know new friends is really fun. I’ve slowly been getting to know some of the moms at Cookie Monster’s preschool better and it has been wonderful. I don’t know why I worried so much about getting along with the other mommies. It gives me great hope for the future when the kids start elementary school.

4) Finding out what the other moms did before becoming SAHMs was a revelation. In our group, we had two lawyers, one child psychologist/school counselor, a financial advisor, and a preschool teacher. I had the least amount of education out of them all. They were all slumming it!

5) There is such a thing as too much chocolate. We attended a chocolate festival at Fort Mason and by the end, I was a bit sick of chocolate. Also, turns out I prefer truffles over bars. The best thing that I put in my mouth this weekend.

6) Valet parking in SF is totally worth it.

7) After attending an Asian American Film Festival, I realized I might have to start putting my money where my mouth is. If I want to see more Asians in film, I need to support their work.

8) Even though I’ve had my pixie cut for at least a month, I’m still not used to my new look. I am constantly surprised when I see myself in pictures and reflective surfaces.

9) I still get carsick.

10) Things that I might’ve found titillating or risqué a few years ago are now boring and contrived. Not because I am jaded or inured to sex. I’m just older and wiser and find some of the more desperate actions really sad.

11) I can’t control myself in bookstores. Especially when it comes to books that feature Chinese or Japanese stories for the kids. I’m also a sucker for coffee table books with tons of art/pictures.

12) Staying up until 3am chatting is better than sleep.

13) After coming home, say, “Thank you” to Hapa Papa and try to curb the urge to point out everything you see that is wrong with the house. It makes Hapa Papa feel shitty and me seem like an ungrateful jerk. Which I was for a few moments. Sorry, Hapa Papa. You are an awesome dad and husband and I am so fortunate to have you.

Since all the husbands performed admirably (one hit it out of the park by taking his boys on a spur of the moment camping trip to Santa Cruz), we clearly can leave our children more often. Any suggestions of where to go and what to do next?

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The Myth of Meritocracy

ETA: Apparently, this post has attracted a lot of attention. (Much to my surprise although Hapa Papa has graciously mocked me with, “Do you NOT know how the internet works?”) At any rate, if you are new to my blog, might I kindly steer you to my Site Disclaimer & Comment Policy? You don’t have to read it, but you are responsible for adhering to it. I don’t mind if you disagree with me – that is totally your right. Just like it is my right to not allow any personally insulting or attacking comments. Free speech is guaranteed by the government, not my blog. 

When Hapa Papa and I were first dating, he used to mock me for using big words in common, every day speech. He told me that I was being an elitist and that no one normal could understand me so I should stop showing off. I was greatly offended. I told him, “I had twenty SAT words drilled in my head every week from the 7th grade through Senior year in high school. I read over a hundred books a year. These words are a part of my vocabulary. What the hell were YOU doing in high school? Didn’t you study for the SAT?”

Hapa Papa just shrugged and said that he took the SATs once during his senior year. He didn’t study for it. Didn’t really know he could study for it. He just showed up to take the SAT his senior year. His parents had never spoken to him about college other than telling him he couldn’t go to an expensive one. He assumed he’d attend a community college or something like that. His parents didn’t encourage him to go to college. (ETA: For those of you who are new to my site, Hapa Papa is half Japanese and half German. I am Pro SCA5 even at the supposed detriment to my own children.) He knew nothing about college applications. No counselors told him what to do. He only took one AP class (he can’t remember which subject: English or History) and applied only to one school, Cal State LA (CSULA), and got in (along with some scholarships). That’s it.

I was astounded. More like incredulous. I thought his parents and school were horrible.

“They didn’t tell you anything? You didn’t study at all? You just, ‘showed up’ one day to take the test?”

“Yep.”

“Did you go to school in the inner city? Are LA schools really that bad? How is it possible you did not know ANYTHING?”

My sheltered little brain couldn’t conceive of a world in which the parents and teachers did not provide a united push for the sole goal of getting their kids into college. The thing is, Hapa Papa actually went to a pretty good school in LA. (The school where they filmed Grease.) College just wasn’t a big deal for him or his parents. Even now, I still have trouble processing this fact.

This scenario of his would have NEVER occurred in my family or my friends’ families. NEVER. As in IMPOSSIBLE. ZERO% chance.

By the time I was in 7th grade, the next six years of my educational life were geared solely to get into college. I had tutors. Bought SAT books. Took as many AP classes as possible. Joined extracurricular activities in order to look good on my college applications. Took summer school for “easy” throw away classes so I could make room for more AP classes. I had piano and voice lessons. I was in choir and marching band and the Colorguard. Took the SATs (both the original SATs and then the SAT I and II) multiple times in multiple years. Took PSATs. Took assessment tests for the standardized tests. Took multiple AP tests. Went to college fairs and information sessions. Our classes were geared to getting us into as well as succeeding at college.

All my friends were like me to varying degrees. My best friends made up the top 5% of my class and I rounded it out, the dumbest of all my super smart friends. And even then, my weighted high school GPA was well over 4.0. (I’d tell you the exact number but I really don’t remember.) College was NEVER not an option.

Another time, we were hanging out with Hapa Papa’s CSULA friends, (who incidentally, were mostly Latino), and they started reminiscing about college. Wanting to contribute to the conversation and bond with them, I started talking about the dorm life and how the cafeteria food was amazing and like restaurant quality when I realized his friends had all fallen silent and just kind of gave me a blank stare. Embarrassed, my voice petered out and never finished what I had started to say.

Later, Hapa Papa gave me shit for being completely tone deaf to the situation. His friends worked through school and either lived with their parents or in the super cheap fraternity house. Their dorms weren’t fancy and they didn’t have amazing restaurant quality cafeterias. He called me a spoiled little rich girl. I felt foolish and ashamed.

I remember a Latino friend at UCLA telling me how angry he was when he realized just how different his schooling was from the majority of other UCLA students. He felt constantly out of place and kept thinking he didn’t deserve to be at campus even though he was in the top of his high school. He had started to think he was stupid and slow at picking things up when he realized it wasn’t because he was stupid. It was because the other students had ALREADY learned these subjects in high school and were taking them again for an easy “A.”

I remember a black friend at UCLA who was clearly smarter than me, worked harder than me, came from a similar socioeconomic background and completely deserved to be at UCLA and yet, people always assumed he got in because of affirmative action. Even back when I was at UCLA, a time before Prop 209 killed affirmative action, at most there were one or two black students in my classes of three hundred. There were so few black people on campus, even though the student population in the late 1990s was approximately 35,000, they knew all the other black students by sight if not by name.

Where am I going with all this?

This past week, I have seen many of my Asian friends post “No on SCA5” on their Facebook feeds, linking articles on how the bill is racist and discriminatory and how it is a new version of the Chinese Exclusion ActSCA5 would repeal provisions of Prop 209 and allow the State of California to deny an individual or group’s rights to public education on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. In layman’s terms, SCA5 would re-allow CA to use race as admissions criteria for UCs and CSUs. Basically, to re-allow affirmative action in UCs and CSUs.

According to UC data, the UC’s 2013 freshman class was 36% Asian, 28.1% white, 27.6% Latino and 4.2% black. At some campuses, including UC San Diego and UC Irvine, Asians are more than 45% of admitted freshmen this year. As of 2010, Asians made up only 14.9% of CA’s population.

If SCA5 passes and UCs and CSUs want to increase Latino and black student populations, due to the immutable properties of math, Asian and white student populations will decrease. And since Asians make up the predominant group, it is highly likely Asians would be the most affected. Understandably, many people (especially Asians) are up in arms over this.

I get why my Asian friends are angry and upset over SCA5. When I was applying for colleges, I remember debating whether or not I should tick off “Asian” when applying. After all, that could hurt my chances to get into school. And now, if SCA5 passes and isn’t repealed, when it comes turn for my children to attend university, their chances of getting into their colleges of choice will also be impacted.

It doesn’t seem fair. Why should blacks, Latinos, and heck, whites, get my kids’ spot just because of their race? They should work hard, get good grades and EARN their way – just like the rest of us.

But what is fair? On the surface, merit-based ONLY (the status quo) seems fair. But is it?

I want meritocracy to be true. I don’t want to admit that I did not get to where I am by myself – that I had help. But truthfully, I did. I benefited from tutors, better teachers, schools, and environment. I grew up without the expectation of violence. I had trusted advisors (who had already gone to college) show me what I needed to do in order to get into UCLA or similar institutions. Many of my extra-curricular activities were possible because my family had enough money so that A) I could do these things and pay for the materials they required and B) I wouldn’t have to work because I wasn’t expected to contribute to the family income.

In addition, I grew up in an environment where attending college was the rule not the exception. Being Taiwanese and the daughter of two MBA graduates makes it assumed that I would make good grades and go to a good school. Whatever you think of the “model minority myth,” society constantly reinforced the idea that I was smart, great at math and sciences, and would likely become a doctor.

I want to believe that I am singularly awesome and responsible for my success. I don’t want to believe that the black or Latino student who didn’t get into UCLA likely could’ve gotten in and done BETTER than I had they my advantages. Who wants to think that of themselves?

But when I honestly look at myself and my work ethic (or complete lack thereof), if situations were reversed and I was in an environment where succeeding at school was considered being a “race traitor” or I had few examples of academic success or all of society was telling me that I could only be successful as either a rap star or an athlete but never an intelligent human being and that I was most likely a thief, a thug, or a drug dealer and going to be knocked up at fourteen or incarcerated, I really don’t think I would have the mental fortitude or personal strength to overcome all of that. 

Even just from the anecdotes I included at the beginning of this post, without doing any research at all (which also backs up what I am saying), it is evident that there are huge differences in student backgrounds.

Money, neighborhoods, schools, race, and cultural expectations make it impossible to have a level playing field. 

Obviously, not ALL blacks and Latinos grow up in poverty. That is clearly false. However, at 12.6%, Asians have half the poverty rates of Latinos (23.6%) and African Americans (24.2%) in California. (Whites are at 9.8%.) So, even though not ALL blacks and Latinos have to overcome immense hurdles, many do. Besides, I’m not worried about the rich and middle-class black/Latino kids. They would get into the UCs and CSUs without affirmative action. But this helps blacks and Latinos who may not have the same grades (especially weighted grades) or access to AP classes, tutors, etc. and had to overcome overwhelming odds to get the opportunity to attend school.

Furthermore, even though Asian households have the highest median income in America, that fails to distinguish between different ethnic groups with different histories. When divided up by ethnicity, the majority of economic and academic success is concentrated in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian Americans. Cambodians (14.6%), Hmong (16%), Laotians (13%), and to a lesser extent, Vietnamese (26.1%), have college graduation rates lower than the US national average (28%). Additionally, one in five Hmong and Bangladeshi people live in poverty.

These are the Asians most likely to be hurt by SCA5. (Not the vast majority of Asians who are protesting on Facebook.)

There are no easy answers. There are limited spots. But sometimes, people in privilege have to give up some of theirs in order to allow other people a seat at the table. That is the burden and responsibility of being in a “majority” or in a seat of privilege. And in this case, I would consider Asians to be in the majority since they occupy a huge portion of spots at the UCs and CSUs.

Remember, Asians benefited greatly from the advocacy and rights of blacks and Latinos. We benefit from their fights for racial equality yet rarely do anything to help out their causes when we could. We Asians think that we achieved all our successes by ourselves when we wouldn’t even be in the conversation if it were not for blacks demanding their civil rights. We can’t have our cake and eat it too.

How hypocritical for Asians to demand opportunities in situations where we clearly benefit but not offer others that same opportunity where we would NOT benefit? Where would we be in other areas (bamboo and glass ceilings) if many whites did not give up some of THEIR privilege? Where would we be if blacks and Latinos had not fought for equal opportunities in employment, housing, and education?

Though much of our personal successes are due to our hard work, how much of that would have mattered if our rights were not secure in the first place? We Asians forget that we stand on top of the backs of our black and Latino friends as they paved the way and fought for our right to be here. 

What good does it do us if we succeed at the expense of blacks and Latinos? Who will come to our aid when we need it? (And believe me, we will need it.)

We are too afraid and pinning too much of our hopes and dreams on getting into certain schools. The truth is, there are so many opportunities out there. It SEEMS like a zero sum game where there is one pie and fuck it we’re losing some of our slice to blacks and Latinos. But in reality, our kids who would succeed at UCs and CSUs would succeed in many different schools. They will be fine. There are SO MANY pies. (Mmmm… pies…) UCs and CSUs are NOT the only game in town. There are many ways to succeed.

We do not need to fear.

Ultimately, is SCA5 fair? I don’t think so. But until I see Asians rallying with equal fervency against the unfairness of impoverished schools, the many Latino and black kids in underperforming school districts, living in areas of violence, drugs, broken families, and hardship, which, unsurprisingly, leads to it being much more difficult to do well in school (especially if you may be the first kid in your family to go to college), I am going to vote Yes on SCA5.

Suggested Reading:

Top 5 Anti-Affirmative Action Myths About SCA-5

NY Times: Asian Americans in the Argument

Civil Rights 101

14 Important Statistics on Asian Americans

Poverty in California

Reflections on the Rise of Asian Americans or Don’t Believe the Hype

Intelligence Squared Affirmative Action Debate (Hat Tip: Andrea Lee)

Myths and Realities of Affirmative Action for College Bound Students

Minorities and Whites Follow Unequal College Paths

A New SAT Aims to Realign With Schoolwork

Generational Poison

I hate to admit it, but it is incredibly hard for me to like folks from Mainland China. This is stupid since my father’s side is from China even though he was born in Taiwan. My grandfather escaped from the Communists to Taiwan after serving in the army. My paternal grandmother is also from China. We still have cousins and grandaunts and granduncles in China. Yet for me, I now identify mostly as Taiwanese after spending most of my life spouting that Taiwanese people were obviously from China unless they were the indigenous Taiwanese people. Now, I consider myself Taiwanese (if only because my mother’s family has been there for several generations.)

Unfortunately, my father’s numerous affairs with his secretaries in China have soured my feelings towards the country. I hear so many stories of women who don’t care if men are married and have families and become home-wreckers. Anything to get money and/or leave the country. It doesn’t help that the newspapers are full of stories featuring corrupt officials, corrupt food, and status seeking real estate, car-buying hordes of people.

Obviously, an entire country cannot be painted en masse just because of a few horrible people. The people I’ve met from China have been perfectly nice and friendly, loving and wanting the best for their children just as I do. We are not so different. Yet I hold them at arm’s length, convinced that they are, deep down, an immoral, ruthless, greedy people. I find it difficult to look past my prejudice and be warm and inviting. I’m not rude, just not kind or super friendly. This makes me sad.

If I want to be intellectually honest, though, I would have to hate Taiwanese women, too. My father had affairs in Taiwan, in the US, and who knows what other countries. While I’m blaming huge swaths of people, perhaps prostitutes, strippers, and all secretaries, too!

Part of me knows it is partially classic “blame the mistress” syndrome in order to distance my father from his evil. I mean, his latest woman is particularly fucked up and conniving, but let’s be real. My father didn’t just trip and accidentally have his penis fall into her vagina and make a baby with her, buy her multiple houses in China and Texas in an effort to hide assets from my mother before the divorce, not pay alimony, and in general be a sociopathic, narcissistic, grade-A asshole. Sadly, this is just the minor tip (see what I did there?) of a fucked up iceberg that tore through my family and ripped it apart.

Not that I’m still pissed about this or anything.

But try telling that to my brain when I interact with Mainland Chinese people. I know. My Taiwanese snobbery is showing.

I bring this up because this past Monday, a woman was so desperately happy to attend our Mandarin playgroup. She had been so isolated because she didn’t speak English very well, lived in a neighborhood without many Chinese people, and couldn’t drive (at least legally in the US). She has a 14 month old son who rarely meets other children because again, this woman cannot drive. Now, when she arrived at my house, of course I was nice and polite. I’m not THAT much of a jerk. And I felt bad for this woman – I know it can be very isolating and lonely after having a child – especially if you’re basically under house arrest. Yet, as soon as I found out she was from Mainland China, part of me shrank back and did not want to be as open to her as I had been originally.

Part of it can be rationalized by saying that as an ABC (American Born Chinese), my experience is vastly different than hers as a new immigrant. Also, Taiwanese culture can be very different from Chinese culture. But ultimately, that is crap. I can lie to myself all I want, but I know, deep down, it’s because I’m a racist bastard.

Anyhow, since I often post about racial issues, I wanted to be honest. Just because I’m a minority (in THIS country, anyway) doesn’t mean I’m exempt from racist thinking and actions. I don’t have any easy answers. I am not about to go out of my way to make friends with all the Mainland Chinese people in my neighborhood. But I do think that being aware of my tendency to be aloof and to actively be more engaging with folks from the Mainland is a good beginning.

My Surprising Lack of Options

I don’t know why I bother clicking on baby dolls or kids’ books. It just upsets me when all the dolls or characters are white and nary a one is anything else. It just makes me feel so sad and disappointed.

At this point, it doesn’t even matter if the doll isn’t Asian or of mixed race (that will be the day). I would accept any ethnicity that is not white. I would also like to see more than one token doll of color – and I don’t consider “really tan” as another ethnicity. But I know that is even crazier than asking for just one mixed race doll.

It’s as if these dolls inhabit a world where there is only one kind of black person or one kind of Latino – but white folks? Legion. Is this how white folks really see the world? That there are a rich mix of features and variety for Caucasians but everyone else looks exactly the same? Or is this what being “color blind” reduces everyone to, causing people to be blind to everyone who is of color?

It really makes me very, very sad. Sad isn’t even the appropriate word. More like angry. Indignant. Defeated.

How many choices of dolls do you think there are out there? Let’s just narrow the field down to that well-known Barbie. Since 1999, there have been at least 2,300 versions sold of the Barbie doll. That’s a lot of dolls. Do you know how many dolls I found when I was looking for an Asian baby doll for Gamera? (Please do not get me started on the creepy, utterly gross results I got. *shiver*) Four. I found FOUR Asian dolls that were reasonable for a toddler to play with (not the collector’s kind and not the squicky sexy kind). There is something wrong with that, don’t you think?

Here’s a great post by someone who loved American Dolls (another super popular doll brand) and their lack of inclusion for Asian Americans. (It’s not like we built a fucking railroad or anything. Oh, wait. WE DID. To be fair, American Dolls does make a custom Asian American doll – but I’m not paying that much money for a doll my kids are going to decapitate someday.)

And for folks who think I am making a big deal out of nothing, do you own a doll of another ethnicity? If not, why? Is it because she doesn’t look like you or your kid? Then why do you suppose I would want a doll that doesn’t look like me or my kid? At best, people have never thought about it much. At worst, they think every one wants to look like them. (My money’s on the former.)

I’m not trying to make people feel bad. To be brutally honest, I don’t give two fucks about other people and the dolls that represent them. (Ok, I do, in a peripheral sort of way.) It’s not the vast variety of white baby dolls that bothers me. As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier. What bothers me is the LACK of dolls that represent ME and MY children.

What I find even MORE astounding is that I would think that Asian countries would be ALL OVER THIS SHIT. Corner the market for Asian Americans and their offspring! But, no. Not a single one that I could find. I think that depresses me even more. I finally bought a French made one for Gamera. The doll looks kinda creepy, but Gamera likes her just fine.

Anyhow, this post got started because I got one an email from one of those deal sites and they were talking about how they have so many beautiful dolls for our little girls to play with. Six dolls were featured and not a single one of them was of a non-white ethnicity. Apparently, only white girls can be princesses and mermaids.

White Man’s Burden

You know what I’m sick of seeing on TV and in movies? Some white dude swooping in to protect and save either women, minorities, or people from a different culture from some thing – be it sexual slavery, rape, themselves, etc. What spurred this rant? This week’s NCIS episode.

Now normally, I love me some NCIS and Leroy Jethro Gibbs. (Mark Harmon just does it for me. I realize this makes me some kind of old, but whatever. Don’t judge me.) But this episode just pissed me off. Why? Because ostensibly, the episode was about smuggling Afghani women who were fleeing arranged marriages or abusive husbands into America. The women came to attention because some Afghani families hired a hitman to find the escaped women in America and “honor kill” them by dumping acid in their face. (Apparently too much hydroflouric acid can cause cardiac arrest. Who says TV doesn’t teach you anything?)

However, mostly the episode just highlighted Gibbs and his guilt over not helping earlier. When an Afghani women’s shelter is threatened with a bombing by the local men, Gibbs goes outside and fights off the mean Afghani men. *eyerolls* The women are just props and background. You never care about them except in a vague “feed the children” kind of way, and the emphasis is only Gibbs, his “bravery” for standing up to those “savages” and how he saves the day.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not pro bombings, abusing women, or marrying teenage girls to old men. But really? FFS, people. White dudes are not the only saviors in this world but time and time again, we get some stoic, no nonsense white guy swooping in (reluctantly, natch) to save these poor victims from whatever trite villainy of the day. It’s really just a prime time version of the After School Special and the Very Special Episode.

It’s contrived and really fucking annoying.

I’m all for shows that truly highlight issues that are ripped from the headlines, but I am NOT for using whole groups of people – especially victims – as gimmicks. They are only present to set up the hero. This objectifies and re-victimizes these people all over again.

Of course, I’m totally screwing up my explanation. I’m rarely very good at explaining issues of privilege in clear, useful language. I’m much more of a ranty “GAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!! THIS SUCKS BALLS!!” type of reactionary writer. For some coherent reasons why this situation is annoying, here are some recent articles I cribbed from Racialicious.

The Problem With Miss Saigon
Malala Yousafzai and the White Savior Complex
War Before Memory
Mighty Whitey (from TV Tropes)

So that’s what you get today for a post. Rantiness. But it can’t be just me who feels this way, right? RIGHT?

*Image courtesy of Racialicious.

Where Are the Characters that Look Like My Kids?

Having been forced to watch HOURS of PBS and SPROUT programming, I have found there to be a lack of diversity on many children’s programs. (I know. Amazing observation.) Also, I know I wouldn’t have ended up watching so much of this if I were a better parent and never allowed my children to watch TV, but that ship has sailed.

Anyhow, it’s not so much that the programs don’t have people of color IN the show, but more so that they are not the MAIN character or person with agency. They’re there, but as sidekicks or very minor, secondary characters. (Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. eg: Dora, Diego, Ni Hao Kai-Lan) Otherwise, the POC are in very special episodes like “Let’s learn about Chinese New Year!” or “Let’s learn about Cinco de Mayo!”

Disclaimer: By no means am I an expert on this subject. I have no studies or reports to back up my statements. I am just going with what I see on a daily basis. (And I don’t really watch too many kid shows in general, so again, not an expert on kid shows.) Also, I have linked the shows to Amazon affiliate links. I honestly don’t expect you to buy these DVDs (it’s free on PBS!), but hey, you never know!

Ok, back to illustrating what I mean. For example:

1) Super WHY!Cookie Monster adores this show. But there is really only one black girl (although she is a princess) and perhaps Wyatt may be part Latino (but that is never clear or obvious). If there are other people of color in the show, it is only in very special books where they are in another country or it’s a festival or whatever. It’s rare to see POC around just in every day situations and not as an anomaly.

2) Wild Kratts – Again, Cookie Monster LOVES this show. But even though there are two brilliant women in the group, Aviva, the Latina inventor and Cookie, the black navigator, they are mostly background. The main agents of the show are two white males. Of course, it’s based on two real white males, so I understand. Again, I’m not lamenting the fact that there are so many shows with white men in it as main characters. I am lamenting the LACK of POC as main characters. I certainly do not begrudge the success Chris and Martin Kratt experience.

3) Curious GeorgeGamera LOVES Curious George and watches this show endlessly on the PBS Kids! app. I think the reason I include this show is because although there are people of color represented (and some are main characters), there is no context for this city. I know it’s supposed to be ANY city ANYWHERE, but it really isn’t. It always seems like it’s in Brazil or some South American country, but then it ISN’T. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that. There’s just SOMETHING that is a little off about the show. That’s all. I could be crazy about this one.

4) Thomas and Friends – Please keep in mind, Cookie Monster watches hours of this show (and its fan made videos) on YouTube every day. I totally appreciate how it allows me to not parent. I know the show’s set on an island near/owned by England, but seriously, not everyone in England is white. I swear! They have POC, too! So why aren’t there any on the fucking island? Every once in a blue moon, you see perhaps an Indian, but they always have accents. Come on. Really? You can do better.

I could list more, but I’m lazy and quite frankly, I can’t think of any more off the top of my head. And that is usually the basis of whether or not I do things. Ease of completion. 😀

Now, onto some shows that I think do really WELL in this area.

1) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – When I first started watching the show, I was boggled at why my kids, let alone ANY kids, would watch this drivel. But then, I realized, they repeat the same theme/song throughout the whole 30 minutes in different contexts and it’s super catchy. However, what I MOST appreciate about this show is that there are black people in it! And in mixed families! And not all the black people are related to each other! What a revelation!! No, seriously. I find it FANTASTIC.

2) Caillou – OK, I know many parents find this show utterly annoying, but I really like it. I like its slow pace and that it really is similar to the life of a toddler and being a parent of a toddler. I think that’s why so many kids love the show – because it accurately portrays their experience. Anyhow, I do enjoy how there are many different families of color and that people of color are portrayed in normal, every day situations. Yes, sometimes there is the highlighted very special Chinese New Year episode with “chinky” music, but for the most part, Asians don’t have accents, and people of color are described as old friends and are treated as such.

3) The Legend of Korra – Ok. Technically, not a preschooler’s show. So sue me. And yes, I realize that the racial constructs are NOT in the same world as we live in. But I don’t care. It’s pretty fucking awesome to see people of color be main characters, have agency, and kick ass in both physical and intellectual endeavors. Also, fucking awesome show in general. (Particularly since it’s anchored in a lot of Chinese and other Asian culture. Which just makes it more awesome.)

4) Young Justice – Alright. Again, not a “kid’s” show. But they’re super heroes – and SO MANY of them are of color. And they’re not just side-kicks. They are legit super heroes in their own right. And plus, AquaLad? OMG – yum!! Of course, because this show was so awesome, it was canceled. Fucking Cartoon Network. 😦

Now, if you’re still with me (and if you don’t have kids and are still reading – bless your hearts, you crazy people, why are you still reading this?), please understand that I’m not dissing these shows. I think for the most part, they’re perfectly fine. But they could be BETTER, with very little effort (I think). Plus, think of all that niche marketing!!

What shows do you think are especially good at diversity (whether socio-economic, racial, sexual orientation, etc)?

Naming Babies “Ethnic” Names

You know what I find curious? Why do Asian families tend to name their kids mainstream “American” names while Indian/Pakistani (I use both because I can’t tell just by looking at a person whether or not they’re Indian or Pakistani) families tend to name their kids traditional “Indian/Pakistani” names? And not only do Asian families name their kids (what Hapa Papa calls) “white” names, they go for the trendiest, “elite” names (eg: McKenna, Mason, etc.).

I am pretty sure my parents named my brother and I with American names because they wanted us to assimilate (to a degree) and not stand out. We also had Chinese names and it was no big deal. I think that is part of what makes it so interesting to me to see I/P kids with their “Real” names. Not that my Chinese name is “Realer” than my American name. (I would actually say it’s the other way around!) I just assumed that I/P folks would have two names. Funny how our culture totally colors how we interpret things.

In a related vein, I am most impressed when I see I/P men and women wear their traditional clothing like it’s normal. I mean, of course it’s normal – but at the same time, it’s not in America. But it pleases me. I wonder if it’s because I/P folks come from a place that is already used to mixing Western and Eastern cultures, and that they are used to white people (due to being former colonies) being around and still being the dominant culture.

I don’t think there is any “traditional” Taiwanese/Chinese clothing that folks wear on a regular basis anymore. It does make me slightly sad, but at the same time, not really. It is just different.

Any I/P folks want to enlighten me? I would really appreciate your thoughts on the matter.