Thursday, August 10, 2006

"oriental mom going to work.jpg"


So I was on Google Images looking for something to illustrate a post on d.i.s.l., and I was using the search term "going to work." Amidst a page of random thumbnails with "going to work" somewhere in their file titles was this one, titled—yes, you read that correctly—"oriental mom going to work.jpg."

Ori-what now?! I had to click on it, just to see [and of course had to share with y'all, 'cause who else am I gonna tell about something like that?]: the captionless photo is illustrating an informational page (copyright 2001) about—wait for it—"an on-going, educational and support group for new and experienced mothers." "Transitions: Mothering Today" at Redlands Community Hospital in Southern California "is designed to help moms effectively handle demanding lifestyles of today. You will glean informative tips and practical skills from other mothers that have made their lives easier and more rewarding. Your children are welcome to come with you." Guess Orientals are welcome too. Good to know!

18 comments:

Kristen said...

I'm not sure if my comment went through.

"All I can say is OY - or maybe it should be 'ai-ya' *shakes fists in air*"

thisislarry said...

wait, why is this bad?

Ka_Jun said...

Man, don't even get me started. On another forum I frequent, a poster, allegedly APIA, referred to himself not only as "oriental", but as "a member of the Mongoloid race". Colonized minds...

papa2hapa said...

is the baby hapa? cause that's some pretty light hair.

honglien123 said...

Wait, are we seriously getting offended by this? The pic wasn't titled "Chinky mom.jpg" and maybe the person who named it was British. Not to insinuate that I have a "colonized mind" or anything, but comparatively we Asians don't have it all that bad. I mean, we could be black! (There is no PC way to get my point across about that.)

Ka_Jun said...

So, let me get this straight, because other minority people have it worse of than we, as APIAs do, that means we cede our own grievances? I'm sorry, on behalf of uppity Asian Americans everywhere, I'll go back and sit in the corner, no need to bring up any distasteful issues, someone else has it worse off.

peachboy said...

I'm with ka_jun. If internment ain't as bad as slavery, we should just relax? I'm opposed to all degrees of racism, and apologists make the work harder. "_____s have it harder than you, so please endure," is part of that old divide-and-conquer oppression.

honglien123 said...

I'm not saying we should cede our grievances (and I'm not being an apologist, having my share of bad experiences), I'm saying we should
pick our battles. There is and will always be inadvertant ignorance and stupidity.
A lot of older people who have not joined in the Asian vs Oriental debate still call themselves Oriental and in some parts of the world Asian and Oriental refer to two different types of people (middle eastern and east asian and I'm NOT saying that that is right either). I guess I'm a glass is half full person (rather than twice as big as it needs to be). I'd rather be optimistic that the person naming the picture did not know better than believe that it was purposely named to offend.
I brought up blacks because I've had this discussion when I was at my all black high school discussing race many years ago. In that discussion, I was getting offended that they were dismissing "the white man's abuse" of the asian race. However, the more I listened to their list of personally experienced grievances (which were long), the more I realized that half of them were a little petty and could have been dismissed with a bit more openmindedness. In many ways some of them had let the persecuted minority mind set take over themselves and became extremely paranoid that everyone was out to get them because they were black.
Ok, this comment is too long as is, basically let's not sweat the small stuff. There's plenty to worry about as is.
Also,yes we are all minorities together, but have YOU participated in more than the protestations of your race? We ARE divided my friend and we ARE conquered and by "we" I mean everybody. Why? Maybe because I'm trying to provoke people to respond, but mainly because we even have to find a better way to define ourselves than black, white, yellow, red, and brown. What should be only a description of a person's appearance has become a definition of who they are period. Let me ask this question. If we were not the minority in this country and were a part of the majority culture instead, how would we really behave as a group? The answer to that should be easy, have you seen how Asians in asia treat each other? We're all human and let's not forget what that means.

Mama Nabi said...

I'm not as offended by the 'oriental' as much as I am by the implication of the title - that someone had to make an effort to 'appear' diverse. One of my temp jobs during grad school was 'modeling' as in, be the token yellow face for the catalogs. They offered me the job the night before the photo shoot so I wasn't sure if I could show up - the coordinator actually called me in the evening, begging for me to show up because they didn't have any other Asians for the photo shoot. Hm, I wonder if my picture was filed under "Oriental grad student studying science.jpg".

nina said...

I think honglien123's point is valid. A lot of older generation Asian Americans call themselves Oriental because that's just what they were called. That's just how they were identified and how they identified themselves. Our generation (or actually, probably the one right above me, but whatever) is the one who found the term problematic and offensive.

But that said, I DO think it's offensive (if only for its obvious sheer ignorance) that an organization trying to appeal to a multicultural community, would use such an outdated term that, for all intensive purposes, is now seen as derogatory.

I also think that, while black Americans DO have it worse than we do (I mean, if we're going to make lists and do comparisons), but that doesn't invalidate our attempts to identify ourselves outside of a colonialist worldview.

I mean, ultimately, ASIA is a western word (check the etymology, it's Latin) and so is arguably just as colonialist as "Oriental". But the difference is, to me at least, the associations of "Oriental" are Asians as a fetishized, commodified race. Like china plates, oriental rugs, and oriental women. I am not an oriental woman, I am an Asian American woman.

Ka_Jun said...

Picking our battles is fine in theory, but I don't believe in its utility. Where do we draw the line? "However, the more I listened to their list of personally experienced grievances (which were long), the more I realized that half of them were a little petty and could have been dismissed with a bit more openmindedness." Who makes the final assessment as to what is a "worthy" goal? Fighting to get "Chinks Steaks" renamed, struggling to get stores to pull products marketing APIA stereotypes a la A&F/Target/Spencer Gifts/Burlington Coat Factory, writing a petition in regards to hate mail targeting the APIA community in Philadelphia, who decides what is petty and what we as a community should let slide? If I've learned something from the struggle of the civil rights movement in this country, it's that you have to lean into the wind and if you wait for people to behave as rational actors in situations that are inherently irrational, you'll be waiting a long time. Don't sweat the small stuff, hey, if it works for you, more power to you, but I will not work against people showing initiative because in the long run if the object lesson learned by American society at large is that the APIA community is powerful and can be mobilized as it was for Vincent Chin, then I'm all for it. Have I, personally worked in solidarity with other minority communities? Yes, because there is a bigger picture and an larger goal. Divisiveness is detrimental to pan-Asian political identity, and ultimately working towards that and collaborative efforts with other minority communities is in our interest. I hope to instill the spirit of initiative and a willingness to openly struggle to our son, because he'll be the one to pick up where others left off.

honglien123 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thisislarry said...

Part of being a parent is learning humility, learning to sometimes just let it go, to accept imperfections in ourselves, in others, and in the world.

Surely this learning should allow us to simply roll our eyes about a picture that says 'oriental' and move on.

peachboy said...

You are entitled to roll your eyes and let it go, thisislarry, but don't deem it a parental virtue we all need to learn nor one that's tied to humility. When my daughter is called "Oriental" or some brother receives a beat-down by crackers shouting "Oriental," I blame the offenders and all those who were complicit in their bystanding (e.g. you). I don't go after every after act of racism -- it would be too exhausting -- but at least I'm aware that if I don't I'm part of the problem. I don't chalk it up to my being learned and above it all. Racism in all its forms and degrees is an imperfection I am not willing to take in stride. I plan to teach my daughter how to spot racism and act accordingly. Ignoring it will be one of her options, and she'll understand the impact of that inaction if she chooses it.

thisislarry said...

speaking of 'crackers':
http://makeashorterlink.com/?S1152129D

EllesMommy said...

Yeah, we don't buy crackers, or other products, named with racial slurs.

erthsister said...

I'm astounded that 1) the baby is not awake and moving around and 2) this woman is wearing a light colored suit. Eh? What was she thinking?? This is comPLETEly unrealistic.

A realistic mom would know not to wear a light colored suit on her way to something important when a baby thinks nothing of blorpping on you at the most inopportune moment. I'm just sayin'.

thisislarry said...

yeah, I think the baby is a plastic model. you can see the parting lines (product design humor)