Dangers of Passing

I Am Hapa

         Since we’ve been talking about passing, I thought it might be helpful to extrapolate the idea a bit. When we talk about racial identities, there is a degree of pressure to convert, pass, and cover–think of skin lightening creams in India, hair straightening within the Black community, and the abundance of plastic surgery in South Korea. I’m talking about it here in the sense of sexuality/gender identity, but how do you see yourself engaging in these practices in your every day life?

When Jeffrey Weeks discusses the construction of heterosexuality, he indicates that our social hierarchy includes a hierarchy of sexualities, with heterosexuality at the top. These power structures are evident not only in the comparison of heterosexuality versus homosexuality, but in the manner Western society uses to pressure transgender and non-binary people to conform to a cisnormative gender hierarchy. Utilizing Kenji Yoshino’s concept of…

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Keanu Reeves and the White-washing of Hollywood

I Am Hapa

Recently, I was reading Hernan Vera and Andrew M. Gordon’s Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness. The book is excellent and I highly recommend it. With one caveat: Keanu Reeves isn’t White.

I say this because in chapter 3, “The Beautiful White American: Sincere Fictions of the Savior”, Vera and Gordon examine the White savior complex that is so frequently found in American films. Movies like Indiana Jones, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Matrix are a few of the films that they critique, and for the most part, rightfully so. The movies do focus on a white male protagonist who swoops in to save the helpless people of color from the clutches of other whites or in some cases, the aliens. This trope is beyond problematic, but in the attempts to identify the issues, the authors incorrectly label Reeves as a White man. He is actually hapa–of native Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, and English…

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Democrats and Mental Health

Democrats and Mental Health

I didn’t mean to kill myself. Or maybe I did. But it has to count for something that I walked myself down to the local hospital just before 5 a.m. and asked to voluntarily commit myself.

I was lucky. Despite vomiting blood, I had no major internal organ damage and I failed to cut deeply in my attempts to slit my wrists or my throat. They even managed to find me a bed in the psych ward after only 18 hours in the ER. That’s unusual—often times people stay in emergency departments for days before a bed opens up. Or they get shuffled around to different psychiatric units, sometimes out of state.

It was past midnight by the time I finally was cleared by the night-shift psychiatrist and given a bed. The first person to talk to me was a boy who helped me get acclimated to the ward. He told me a bit about himself, how he dropped out of high school and couldn’t keep a job due to his illness. On his 21st birthday, which was my second day in the ward, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday. He said that all he wanted was to go out to dinner with his mom and four brothers. Later in the week, I learned he was committed for attempting to murder his entire family.

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