People Of color by elena liao

 

Oftentimes, color is used as a descriptor for races; white, black, brown, and yellow have been used as descriptors for a range of ethnicities. I explored the use of terms and concepts like "black criminality," "white trash," "brown voice," and "yellow fever" by having my subjects play with different props and poses that exposed the reductive nature of using the color of a person's skin to target ethnic groups. Not only was my aim to discredit the negative connotations of color stereotypes, but to urge my subjects to embrace their individual complexions in a new way. Shame can spiral into silence over racial discomfort, leading people to shy away from their natural color palette instead of accentuating it. I wanted people to flip the way they viewed their own skin color to a mode of self-empowerment, instead of shame, thus reconceptualizing what it means to silence a stereotype in a more positive method.

 

Sharod - What is "black criminality"?

 Is it the black hood that makes a black person more suspect of criminal activity?

Is it the black hood that makes a black person more suspect of criminal activity?

 
 Is it the dreads underneath that make a black person seem "other" and "criminal"?

Is it the dreads underneath that make a black person seem "other" and "criminal"?

 
 s it the image of a gun (the same that led to Tamir Rice's senseless murder) that spurs a belief in "black criminality"? 

s it the image of a gun (the same that led to Tamir Rice's senseless murder) that spurs a belief in "black criminality"? 

 
 Is it the evolution of "bumptious conduct" into trap dance (a caricature of black culture) that makes black people appear uncivil?

Is it the evolution of "bumptious conduct" into trap dance (a caricature of black culture) that makes black people appear uncivil?

 
    Or is it nothing but social conditioning that makes us believe in a reductive stereotype?

 

Or is it nothing but social conditioning that makes us believe in a reductive stereotype?

 

Sally - What is "white trash"?

 Is it hiding away?

Is it hiding away?

 
 Is it being proud to be white?

Is it being proud to be white?

 
 Is it a literal description?

Is it a literal description?

 
 Or is "white trash" nothing but a meaningless phrase that is incapable of embodying the individuality of Eurasian people?

Or is "white trash" nothing but a meaningless phrase that is incapable of embodying the individuality of Eurasian people?

 

Naina - What does it mean to have a "brown voice"?

 Does it mean we can still watch the Indian cartoon character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, on  The Simpsons,  despite being voiced by a white actor?

Does it mean we can still watch the Indian cartoon character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, on The Simpsons, despite being voiced by a white actor?

 
 Does it mean that an unseen speaker can still be categorized as a certain ethnicity?

Does it mean that an unseen speaker can still be categorized as a certain ethnicity?

 
 Does it mean that we can't listen beyond someone's accent?

Does it mean that we can't listen beyond someone's accent?

 
 Does it mean that people feel obligated to strip away traces of their ethnicity in their speech patterns?

Does it mean that people feel obligated to strip away traces of their ethnicity in their speech patterns?

 
 Or is it just a meaningless descriptor that has no relation to the source/the speaker?

Or is it just a meaningless descriptor that has no relation to the source/the speaker?

 

Tommy - Where does "Yellow Peril" exist?

As an Asian American woman, I feel that it is inappropriate for me to act as if I am asking what "yellow peril" is. Rather, in this section, I will answer what it means to me. 

    It lies in the act of celebrating a country that won't always celebrate you. As an immigrant culture, we are celebrated for our exoticism, yet we've slowly traded in firecrackers for birthday candles as we have established an American identity. Then, we are told that we are brave for deciding to assimilate into a country of "Yellow Peril," where foreignness is still feared.

 

It lies in the act of celebrating a country that won't always celebrate you. As an immigrant culture, we are celebrated for our exoticism, yet we've slowly traded in firecrackers for birthday candles as we have established an American identity. Then, we are told that we are brave for deciding to assimilate into a country of "Yellow Peril," where foreignness is still feared.

 
 It exists in the disdain for the cultural stereotypes we've been given as Asian ethnics in a Western nation. Diagnosed as a doctor or intellectual before we're even infected, thereby ensuring that we'll never infect the American workforce enough to displace subconscious racial biases. "Yellow Peril" is fear of Asian parodies, of an illusion, of a mimetic representation.

It exists in the disdain for the cultural stereotypes we've been given as Asian ethnics in a Western nation. Diagnosed as a doctor or intellectual before we're even infected, thereby ensuring that we'll never infect the American workforce enough to displace subconscious racial biases. "Yellow Peril" is fear of Asian parodies, of an illusion, of a mimetic representation.

 
 "Yellow Peril" can become fear of oneself at times. It becomes a fear of affirming racial stereotypes of foreignness and morphs into the downplaying of Asian ethnicity so as to distance oneself from the unassimilated Asian immigrant. 

"Yellow Peril" can become fear of oneself at times. It becomes a fear of affirming racial stereotypes of foreignness and morphs into the downplaying of Asian ethnicity so as to distance oneself from the unassimilated Asian immigrant. 

 
 But it's precisely this connection we have to immigration that sets us free. We overcame. "Yellow Peril" existed in the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Page Act of 1875, the National Gentlemen's Agreement, Bill Clinton's Chinagate, and in neoliberal trade agreements like TPP.    However , I will refuse to allow "Yellow Peril" to coerce my expression as a North American Asian person. When we wear our skins proudly, "Yellow Peril" ceases to exist as a specter over our lives.

But it's precisely this connection we have to immigration that sets us free. We overcame. "Yellow Peril" existed in the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Page Act of 1875, the National Gentlemen's Agreement, Bill Clinton's Chinagate, and in neoliberal trade agreements like TPP.


However, I will refuse to allow "Yellow Peril" to coerce my expression as a North American Asian person.
When we wear our skins proudly, "Yellow Peril" ceases to exist as a specter over our lives.