Monday, July 30, 2007

Week 6 Media Item#2: Kenji

The above image is the album The Rising Tied from the hip-hop ensemble Fort Minor. It contains the song Kenji. The song is the telling of the experiences of Japanese-Americans during WWII and being placed in internment camps.

A Youtube video features the song along with lyrics at the following link:
The song is about the experiences of Japanese-Americans during WWII and life in internment camps. The song depicts the harsh relaity of the internment camps as no one was told where they were going or really why it was necessary for them to leave their homes. The Japanese faced further discrimination after leaving internment camps as their homes were trashed and anti-Japanese sentiments ran high. The song also features excerpts from people who actually experienced life in the internment camps.

The song is in stark contrast to the video A Challenge To Democracy. The video made the internement camps as just a necessary nuisance for the Japanese-Americans and that life for them would be all right. It showed Japanese-Americans living happy lives after internment camps and being accepted for their contributions. However, the song indicates that racism ran high as a family returned home and found their home broken into and trashed and anti-Japanese sayings were put on the walls. This shows that the video was complete propaganda as first-hand experiences reveal something quite different. The video also said that the only way out the camps was by joining the army or by working in the beet farms. The song does mention that joining the army wsa a way to get out, and the man represented in the song as Kenji has joined the army in order to get out. So that part of the video was true, but the depiction of Japanese-Americans as happy and content is against the experiences described in the song.

I liked the song because it reveals the reality of the internment camps. The video A Challenge To Democracy didn't give me a picture of how life was like in the internment camps, it was clear propaganda. The song reveals how people in the interment camps felt and describes the experiences they lived through. I have a better picture of how the camps impacted the Japanese-American community and the experiences they msut have gone through during WWII.

song citation:
Fort Minor. Kenji. The Rising Tied. Warner Bros. Records, 2005.

video citation:
Fort Minor - Kenji. Online. Available: (July 28, 2007).

Week 6 Media Item #1: Asians in Hollywood

Copyright Asian Week Nov 10, 1989
LOS ANGELES -- There are several up-and-coming Asian Pacific American actors in Hollywood. The two actresses featured in this month's column are not only talented but share in the belief that they have what it takes to "make it" in the industry.
Amerasian actress, Ren Hanami, has been preparing to be an actress all her life. "I know it sounds corny, but I've always wanted to be an actress. Even when I was little I used to sing and dance for everyone. It's all a process," said Hanami.
Singing was Ren's first love. She also discovered acting while at UCLA and was torn between the two arts. She chose acting and graduated with a degree in theatre arts.
Hanami credits New York acting coach, David LeGrant with helping her break out of the "boo-been-de-doo" syndrome and mature as a performer. She made her professional debut as an actress in the TV series, "Bronx Zoo" starring Ed Asner.
Ren's hard work is beginning to pay off. She can be seen in the following television shows for fall: "Tour of Duty," "Love With a Twist," Sandy Duncan's "Hogan Family," and "The Bakery," an ABC special. Currently, she can be seen on stage in Stephen Sondheim's musical "Company," playing a Goldie Hawn type of character at East West Players.
"Call me a triple threat. I sing (with a style similar to Paula Abdul), dance and act," said Ren. "My goal is to have a career as an actress/singer. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and go to work as a performer, not as a secretary sitting behind a computer terminal somewhere," said Hanami.
"I'm Amerasian... in between. I know what discrimination is," said Hanami matter of factly. "There are so many people like me who work hard and then casting pulls someone from off the street when they're looking for a specific race," she said. "There are some shows that are more enlightened than others, like 'Tour of Duty.'" Ren praised them for casting her as a Vietnamese woman without asking any questions about her ethnic background.
Ren's career is going well. Her agent, Rick Martel, has provided her with the opportunities and she's been able to deliver the goods. Ren prefaced what she said with "I hope this doesn't sound conceited but I feel I'm talented. I've been blessed with an instrument, my voice. I have to keep the faith, keep plugging and the doors will open," said Ren.
"Whenever I become frustrated or sad, I think about the people who've made it. Everyone I admire, believe in themselves. They try to be the best they can be," said Hanami.
Ren continued her thoughts about her life and said, "I have a wonderful husband who's also an actor. David is my support and foundation and likes to feel he's making a contribution to my career. I've been blessed, good things have come to me in life," said Hanami.
"I love to travel and learn about new cultures," says Filipina-American actress Rochelle Ashana. This versatile actress/singer has performed in exotic locations such as the Philippines and Thailand and would like to establish herself as an international leading lady.
Ashana came to Hollywood from Hawaii. She was the lead singer in a jazz-rock band on the islands and was discovered by producer/casting director, Jerry Walden. The success Rochelle's achieved has been through her own hard work and motivation. Rochelle enrolled at UCLA and graduated with a degree in MPTV.
Rochelle has accomplished a lot in the four years she's been in Hollywood. She's guest starred on many television shows including "The A Team," "Hooperman," "Jake and the Fatman," "Magnum P.I.," and well-known "soapers" such as "The Young and the Restless," "Santa Barbara" and "General Hospital."
She also hosted her own television show called "U.S. Asians" on cable television for two years. Rochelle felt she expanded her knowledge about Asian culture through the show. "It was also the basis of my training for the industry. I learned all about directing, editing, voice-overs, everything," said Ashana.
"Since I've been in Hollywood, I've been working steadily. This is my niche. I'm not waiting, I'm making it happen," said Rochelle. "I read biographies of successful people to see if they have a secret I should know about," confided Rochelle. She also has two scripts in the works based on her story ideas.
Rochelle actively pursues her goals of becoming leading lady. As a featured player on "Fright Night 2," she paid attention on the set. "I didn't sit in my dressing room but observed the day's shooting. I also learned to carry my own "cominuity book," which contained her lines for the day and photographs of her wardrobe. After all, you're the one who looks stupid if the script girl isn't on the ball," said Ashana.
Ashana felt "Fright Night 2" was great preparation for her co-starring role in "Kickboxer," opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme. "Kickboxer" was number one at the box office in Europe for six weeks and is doing well in United States distribution. Rochelle felt it was also a bonus being able to film in Manila.
Before she completed "Kickboxer," she met director Adrian Carr, who cast Rochelle opposite Richard Norton in "Sword of the Bushido," which will be released next year. Being skilled in the martial arts, she did her own stunts portraying the leader of a rebel army in Thailand.
Ashana can be seen in "Trenchcoat in Paradise," starring Dirk Benedict, in November. Other upcoming television appearances include "Peaceable Kingdom," starring Lindsay Wagner and "227," with Marla Gibbs.
Casting notes: Mike Chan, "Alien Nation," and "Hardball"; Rodney Kageyama, "American Dream Contest"; Mariko Tse, "Murphy Brown"; Francine Nguyen, "China Beach"; Ernest Harada, "Nutt House" and "His and Hers"; Soon-Teck Oh, "Hunter"; Jane Chung, "A Brand New Life"; Jim Ishida, "Mancuso: FBI" and "Jake and the Fatman"; Richard Herkert, "Fear Stalk"; James Hong, "Framed" and "Tango and Cash"; Philip Tan, "Tango and Cash" and "China Cry"; Keye Luke, "Gremlins II"; Shaun Shimoda, "Problem Child" and April Tran, "Nowhere to Run." - Serisawa, Susan

The above article, "Asians In Hollywood", is by Susan Serisawa in the newspaper Asian Week. The article was published in 1989 in Voume 11, issue 11. The article mainly deals with Asian-Americans and their life in Hollywood. However, there are some key elements in the article dealing with Ren Hanami's experiences as an Asian in Hollywood. She says that she has experienced discrimination on some level as she was often casted away for a role because her background didn't match what a caster wanted, and people who aren't professional actresses would get her role.

The part of the article dealing with Hanami and discrimination is related to Frank Wu's article Writing Race. Wu describes many instances of Asians discrimination including his own personal experiences. On p. 416 Wu mentions that often minorities aren't judged on their own character, but on their appearance. Similarly, Hanami judged on her appearance. She has the character and ability to perform in the role, but was cast aside for a non-professional as she says. This type of discrimination is subtle, but important nonetheless because it shows the type of discrimination the casters had gotten away with without anyone saying anything. Hanami's experiences are important in understanding discrimination against Asians in America just as Wu's experiences are also important.

I thought the part of the article dealing with Hanami's discrimination was interesting because at first I didn't understand what was being said. So in a way I did not fully understand the discrimination that was occurring. It took me a while to understand what was happening. Hanami was being discriminated based on how she looks like even though she is more than capable of performing in the role. However, by denying her the role and picking out someone based on appearance instead of capability, the caster is being racist and discriminatory. It may take a while to understand fully how the event is discriminatory because it is so subtle. However, by putting myself in Hanami's place and imagining how I'd feel if the same happened to me I can understand the discrimination taking place.

Text citation:
Sserisawa, Susan. "Asians In Hollywood." Asian Weekly: Vol. 11, Issue 11. 10 Nov 1989: p. 14. Ethnic Newswatch. BGSU Lib., OH. July 28, 2007 <>.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Week 5 Media Item #2: Apartheid

This image is from's entry on Apartheid in South Africa. It depicts a beach in Durban, South Africa, but there is a sign. It says under law, only whites are allowed on the beach. It is meant to ban anyone who is not white to be able to access the beach. The sign is a a part of the overall system of apartheid that was a part of South Africa from 1948 to the 1990s.

The image is disturbing because it isn't old, in fact apartheid was a very recent system in South Africa that was done away with in the early 1990s. The system was a racist and inhumane system that targeted all non-whites in South Africa. The system was much like the Jim Crow system in the South as described by Richard Wright in his The Ethics of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch. Jim Crow was a system in the South in the United States that segregated blacks and was inhumane and unjust towards blacks. It was meant to give whites superiority just as Apartheid was meant to in South Africa. Both, by law, said the groups of ethnic peoples could be separate as long as facilities were equal. However, for both, that was not the case. As Wright highlights on pp. 22-23 in the event of a fight, the whites has bottles to throw and trees to hide behind, while he and his black friends has only cinders and nothing to hide behind. He also talks about how the white side of town was prosperous, and that was where money could be made as stated on p. 23. However, throughout the document, he shows the inhumanity of Jim Crow and how it oppressed blacks. Similarly, Apartheid was an unjust system and facilities and services for blacks were in poorer quality as opposed for to the whites' facilities and services.
The image is an image that shows that racism and its incorporation into social systems is not relegated to the United States, it is a part of many other nations in the world including South Africa. Although Apartheid was done away with in the early 1990s, it still leaves a mark in the inhumanity it created in the lives of many non-whites in South Africa for nearly 50 years. I found it to be disturbing because in the overall system, this was merely a sign on a beach restricting access, I can't even imagine how harsh the rest of the system must have been. It certainly shows that racism is still a problem, as this was almost a decade ago.

Image citation:
"Petty apartheid": sign on Durban beach in English, Afrikaans and Zulu. History of South Africa in the apartheid era. Online. Available: (July 20, 2007).

Week 5 Media Item #1: Roots

Roots is a 1977 television mini-series about slavery, particularly beginning with a boy, Kunta Kinte, taken from his home in Africa and then raised as a slave in the United States. The story follows each generation of his family over a number of years, and includes many events such as the Civil War or Emancipation.
The story of Roots follows along the lines of Octavia Butler's Kindred. The novel Butler writes is about a character, Dana, who follows a plantation of slaves over a number of years. Roots also is similar in that it follows a genealogical line of slaves over a number of years. Both the novel and the miniseries show the life of a slave in the South during the 1800s. The novel captures well the absolute inhumanity and injustice that was a part of slavery, and Roots does the same in depicting graphic violence against the slaves. Both are fiction, but based around non-fictitious facts about slavery by showing how slaves actually lived and depicting the racism and brutality of the system.
I never saw the enitrety of Roots, but I've managed to watch parts and it is quite a compelling work of fiction. It uses the reality of slavery and applies it to a story just as Butler did with her novel. I thought that both Roots and Kindred were similar in their approaches to depicting the slave era, and both were very interesting and effective in showing how life would have been in that era of history.
Image citation:
Roots. IMDB. Online. Available: (July 20, 2007).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Week 4 Media Item #2: Racism

The above cartoon depicts awhite police officer with a USA badge holding a dog representing racism. It is attacking a black man, and the police officer is acknowledging that racism still exists within society. This relates to the video Race: The Power of an Illusion, Part II, The Story We Tell. It also realtes to Takaki's chapter 3 "The Giddy Multitude" in his book A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Both show how racism was developed into a social system by elites in order to keep the blacks down, and the elite whites in power.

The cartoon only depicts a white man in a position of authority. It is reinforcing of the image of an elite white America, represented further by the USA badge the officer wears. Takaki talks about on p. 55 how the white elites wanted to keep the rest of the populations down and explains further on pp. 55-60 how they passed laws and implemented a social construct of racism in order to keep their authority and power. The cartoon does well to depict this aspect by only showing a white officer in control of racism, represented by a police dog. The video relates because it showed how white society began to view the black populations as lowly and unworthy of being integrated and were always suspicious of their behavior. The cartoon does well to depict this as a black man seems to be doign nothign wrong, yet the white society surrounding him are unleashing the dogs of racism in order to assert their power over the man.

I thought that the cartoon was thought-provoking because most people don't see racism as a problem in society today. But the cartoon shows that it still exists, and the phrase "It's still going strong" by the police officer in the cartoon shows this. It leaves to be asked how far society has really progressed to achieve racial equality.

Image citation: Online. Available: (July 15, 2007).

Week 4 Media Item #1: The Race

The above cartoon, Carrerra de Obstaculos - Steeplechase by Garcia Segovia depicts two men in a race. One is white, the other is black. The white man's race is easy, but the black man's race has many obstacles in the way such as overcoming poverty, getting an education, overcoming high child mortality rates, and overcoming HIV/AIDS in the community. This is a depiction of two people going for the same goal, but one has more obstacles to overcome due to the white man's privileges. This relates to the video viewed this week called Race: The Power of an Illusion, Part II, The Story We Tell.
The video depicted the story of racism that has been told by the elite that created a system of privileges for the whites, and a system of oppression for blacks. This cartoon shows how this system is still present today. Whites throughout history have created a story about how black are inferior and they are somehow superior over the blacks. This led to a social system that favored the whites and oppressed the blacks. Some of these oppressions are manifested in the cartoon as poor education in black communities, high AIDS rates, high child mortality rates, and poverty that is not seen in many other communities. The video discussed how white society created the gap and the cartoon shows how the gap is still manifested in today's world.
I thought the cartoon was very inovativein its design. A race to a goal for two runners. But one of the runners is white, while the other is black. The white runner has a clear path with no obstacles. The black runner has to overcome a glaring number of obstacles in order to achieve the same goal. I found this cartoon to be very simple and straightforward in it's message, and I liked it for that reason. It was innovative and effective in communicating it's message.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Week 3 Media Item #2: Globalization

The above political cartoon is by Juergen Tomicek from Germany. He depicts a poor civilian of a third world country, who represents the third world as a whole. This person is caged by a spherical cage reperesenting the globe and globalization. It is showing that globalization will not help the Third World countries and the people in them. I chose this political cartoon because it is very relevant to current debates about globalization. It also relates to Johnson's Chapter 3 about capitalism and the distribution of wealth.

Juergen Tomicek's political cartoon relates to Johnson's Chapter 3 Capitalism, Class, and the Matrix of Domination in his book Privilege, Power, and Difference. Johnson talks about how capitalism led to racism, and how it still puts minorities at a disadvantage. In capitalism, he explains on p. 42, the object is to make as much money as possible. So the wealthy are able to become more wealthy since they have the money, they can decide what to do with it and how much to give to the lower classes. He then says on p. 46 that capitalists introduced the "idea of whiteness" in order to get lower class whites to blame their poverty and unsuccessful lives on minorities and divert blame from themselves. It was a racist system to keep the rich wealthy and the poor in poverty. Tomicek's cartoon shows similarities with Johnson's analysis of capitalism. Globalization is expansion of business and culture across the globe. There are those who are against globalization because it puts third world countries at a disadvantage. The money from expanding businesses across the globe favors European and American companies who open markets in the third world in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Meanwhile, the Third World is left in a state of poverty and simply can't keep up with the mass wealth European and American companies are making. The Europeans and the Americans are the capitalists that are the wealthy that are becoming more wealthy, and the Latin Americans, Africans, and Asians are being left behind. The system is caging the Third World countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to poverty while white Europeans and Americans are making more money.
I thought this cartoon was a very simple way to put the issue of globalization in an understandable form. The system doesn't favor Third World countries, but the European countries and America who are amassing more and more wealth. I thought it was very clever how Tomlicek showed the globe and globalization caging up the Third World. I think that capitalism, as Johnson says, is still unequally benefitting white Europeans and Americans. Although it isn't wrong to make money and to prosper, it does become a problem when other people are put at a disadvantage simply because of who they are. Africans, Latin Americans, and Asians don't see this wealth flow into their countries as it does into Europe and the United States. It is a big issue that often goes ignored in the media and in society because people don't think about it. I think Tomlicek's cartoon is a simple and straightforward way to present the issue, and is effective as a result.

Image citation:
Tomlicek, Juergen. Globalization. Karikaturenwettbewerb cartoon competition. Online. Available: (July 08 2007).