May 2013 Takeaways

Selfish women, fatally unarmed, normal Americans, Arrested Development and creepy doll twins.

This month’s review is a bit different. Rather than a list of forgettable headlines juxtaposed with ridiculous stories, I share with you a few items from the concluding month that deserve a bit more attention.

Women breadwinners are destroying society.

The men at Fox News are shocked and appalled that in 40% of American families, women are now the breadwinners. To them, this is a sign that “society is dissolving” because “having moms as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage”. This is yet another example of folks wishing they could go back and live in some sort of Norman Rockwell painting that never actually existed. God forbid they get a woman’s opinion on that panel.

Tsarnaev friend killed by the FBI was unarmed

Even if Ibragim Todashev was a murderer and/or terrorist, this shooting is cause for concern. He was shot seven times, once in the head. The FBI is conducting its own internal investigation while the Council of American-Islamic Relations is calling for an independent investigation. A lot more people should be asking questions when an unarmed man is shot seven times and killed. This is not an Islamic issue – it’s about the relationship between individuals and state authority. 

But where are you really from?

Most non-white people living in the US (the entire Western world even) have encountered this at some point or another. The most interesting thing about this video is the guy’s use of the word “regular American”. As the demographics of the US point towards a country without a majority race or ethnicity, it remains to be seen whether or not we will lose this idea of what it means to be normal.

A new media platform comes of age

It’s easy to take things for granted in the digital age. In a few years, we probably won’t think twice about Netflix as a producer of original content. When Arrested Development was cancelled several years ago, millions of its die-hard fans were hurt and confused. How could a show with such a loyal following get cancelled? Network television needs mass viewership, whereas Netflix has a different model – high quality niche products. The strangest thing about the new season is that all 15 episodes were released at once, which meant that fans could binge on them. It seems Netflix is trying to adapt to the needs of viewers who are already so accustomed to illegally streaming and downloading their shows all at once. Following the success of Lilyhammer, House of Cards and now Arrested Development (success measured by viewership, not reviews), expect many more shows from Netflix and other non-traditional companies.

American Girls dollsAMERICAN GIRLS

There have been creepy dolls before. There have been creepy little girls before. But when Ilona Szwarc decided to photograph girls with their customized lookalike dolls for the New Yorker, she, perhaps inadvertently, captured the creepiest combination of girl-doll imagery I have ever seen. I smell a slasher movie in the making. The full slideshow is available here.

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Demographic Breakdown of the Vote

Here is the racial and ethnic breakdown of voters for Obama and Romney.

Here is the racial and ethnic breakdown of the US population as a whole.

Crediting Obama’s victory to high minority turnout ignores the fact that minorities make up such a large part of the country and that Obama’s supporters reflect the demographic reality in the country much more than Romney’s.

Don’t Google Image Search Asians

Two weeks ago, I posted a couple of thoughts on the Asian American community. During the writing process, I did a Google image search for Asian – the results were almost entirely pornographic in nature. Since Google’s algorithm shows results based on popularity, my search results suggest that when people do an image search for Asian, they are almost always looking for pornographic images.

This got me to thinking – what are people looking for when they search for other communities? I use the term community very loosely – any group of people that can be described using any word, whether accurate or not. I did an image search for a bunch of people, mostly by nationality to see what was popular. Here’s what I found:

What’s an Asian (American)?

The only thing that binds Asian Americans is the common fear of disappointing our parents.

Yesterday we took a look at the demographic rise of the Asian American community. And since I took the effort to examine what a Hispanic is a few weeks ago, I thought I’d just touch upon what it means to be Asian American.

I never liked the word Asian. I suppose all racial/ethnic categories are arbitrary and invented, but Asian takes the cake for the silliest. It always seemed absurd to lump together 60% of the world’s population into one group. And as far as geography goes, Europe and Asia are obviously part of the same landmass, so why this arbitrary boundary of the Ural mountains? What do folks from Saudi Arabia and Japan have in common? Malaysia and Mongolia?

While growing up, it was easy to see solidarity and understanding within the Black, White and Hispanic communities (the “big three” as I like to call it) in my neighborhood. There were aspects of language, phenotype, and culture that kept certain kids with “their kind” and not with others. As pretty much the only Indian kid for miles, I took turns emulating and resenting each one of those groups. One day this Vietnamese kid joined our school and I decided right then that this word Asian was bullshit. The boy, I think his name was Phan, served me no purpose – the only thing we had in common was that neither of us were from the big three. Continue reading “What’s an Asian (American)?”

Here Come the Asians

“Nation, we’re getting boxed in. Mexicans do the jobs we don’t want to do, and Asians do the job we’re not able to do.” – Stephen Colbert

Just after the 2000 Census, the Hispanic/Latino community overtook the Black/African American community as the country’s largest minority community. At the time, there were just over 35 million Hispanics in the US. Following the 2010 Census, that figure has grown to over 50 million. The US has more people of Spanish speaking origin than any other country in the world other than Mexico.

As usual though, the demographic tides are turning. According to a new study put out by the Pew Research Center, in 2010, for the first time Asian immigration  (430,000 arrivals) outnumbered Hispanic immigration (370,000 arrivals). Asians currently comprise the largest stream of immigrants in the country.

Continue reading “Here Come the Asians”