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November 23, 2010

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Mei

Thanks for sharing your story. I find it crazy that so many of your readers experienced racism so much older. I was the only Asian American in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood until the 6th grade; since I entered the school system in preschool, I was made fun of for who I was. I hated going to school everyday. I only remember once, did a teacher intervene since most jokes and comments were in places a teacher may not hear.

It was not until my family moved into a more diverse community in the 6th grade that I began to embrace my own identity and culture. I am sad to say that to this day, I do not feel fluent in my culture's language because of my strong rejection during my earlier years.

It is wonderful you are so proactive in caring and looking out for Peanut. Thanks for the post, MD.

Demi

I just want to say that I love both your style of writing and your perspective on life. Both have had quite an impact on me. Thanks for all of it. Please write more!

g

@ Little Kristen:
Identifying yourself or someone else as Asian-American isn't racist. I don't think the answer to racism is to ignore the differences or pretend they don't exist. To end racism, we need to celebrate our differences and appreciate them in others.

lena

You have such an honest voice and writing style, and you've been a great inspiration to me and many of my friends.

None of us are married or have kids but we are all addicted to your posts. I think you're the awesome uncle that we wished we'd always had (not to make you feel old, MD.)

We all talk about how our only complaint is that we wish you'd write more. So get to it, MD!!!

Angela

PLEASE keep your Twitter page. It alternates between hilarious and profound. I love it. You're one of my fave.

Jennifer

Little Kirsten,

You do deserve to get flamed for your reply. I'm glad you at least realized that.

Your reply is pretty much a typical white privilege approach to things. A very "But if we don't talk so much about race and put labels on people, racism will probably just magically go away!" sort of answer that only someone who had a very limited concept and experience with racial discrimination could come up with. Being made fun of for being skinny, bucktoothed and four-eyed is somewhat comparable to being a visible racial minority because it is harrassment based on physical appearance... but tell me when white Americans who were skinny, bucktoothed and four-eyed were chained, sold, enslaved or put in the back of buses. Tell me when skinny white Americans were banned from ever setting foot in the United States (a la the Chinese Exclusion Act, go Google it) or forced into internment camps.

You being made fun of as a kid because of how you looked was super uncool. But uh, racial minorities having a history of systematic oppression, discrimination and harrassment sanctioned by the majority population and its government solely because of how they looked is just NOT comparable to kids on the playground mocking your buckteeth.

But you are white, and have grown up in an environment in which the majority of people looked like you, sounded like you, had similar customs and experiences and family members as you. So this all might be quite hard for you to understand.

PS: Your snide remark about MetroDad embracing a "victim mentality" is just the icing on the (super vanilla) cake.

Jennifer

MetroDad, I'm really sorry you daughter went through what happened. I'm glad she has supportive parents who will help her understand what happened and how not to feel defeated by it.

I think it's relevant that the kids who did this to Peanut were Latino. When I moved to the South, my brother and I were racially harrassed for being Asian not just by white kids, but by black and Latino kids as well. It goes to show that racism is not some sort of whites-only-do-it phenomenon. We all tend to internalize negative beliefs about each other-- even fellow people of color. You could argue that racism from minorites against other minorities is somehow worse because you'd expect there to be a mutual understanding of how hurtful and alienating it can be to be a certain minority. But often, no such luck, because ignorance is ignorance.

You can see the high incidence of verbal and physical harrasment towards Chinese immigrant students by black students at South Philadelphia High for such an example.

Kristina H

Jennifer...you rock. Well said.

Dave Thompson

A lot of times kids say the words, but don't really know how mean they are being - especially when they are young. I got in huge trouble, long after I should have known better, for calling Lulu Yen a "chink." I actually had a crush on Lulu and was devastated when she cried. I really didn't have any negative view of Asians. I just thought it was a funny word.

My daughters are both adopted from China, so that makes the story all the more poignant. We talk about them being Chinese, but it's all an abstraction to them. I don't think they feel any different at all. They try to describe Asian friends and they say stuff like, "you know, the one with the black hair."

Felisa

Your daughter is just the cutest! And the smartest.

I remember my first time as well... I was about to get on the bus and a boy pushed me and said that no "Chinese girl" was going to get in the bus before him. That and I still remember being horrified when I found out that blacks counted as just 3/5 of a person less than 200 years ago.

Mia

I love to visit your post. You really do put my life in order. I sometimes think that I am out of control but now I am thinking a little better about myself. Just kidding. Love to keep up with you and the peanut. Have a great holiday season.

Andy

It doesn't stop there. Ethnic racism even hits hard against those from Europe. For instance, did you hear about Sladjana Vidovic? She was an immigrant who attended our US schools only to be bullied so much because of her ethnic background that she took her own life. It's really sad. It's even sadder that Peanut has to endure such things at a young, tender age.

elizabeth-flourish in progress

Hola, metrodad,

Stefanie Wilder Taylor sent me over here (she said it was because you were awesome and funny, not because I'm Asian too. Okay, I believe her. You're hilarious.) and I'm glad she did.

Ugh, seriously, chink gook? You'd think they'd come up with something better by now. Get creative folks! I grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, so I heard a lot of that. Bummed? Yes. A little less bummed when I saw one of my former bullies working a parking garage 20 years later. =)

My daughter turns 11 next week, and I'm on-my-knees thankful she's grown out of the princess parties. Now she wants an ice skating party. Which, is fine with me, since that means I get to put on some tights and make an ass of myself in front of little children. I live for that, yo.

Riley

Growing up in the Philippines, Switzerland and California, I never "got" racism. I knew it existed, but I never felt it first hand until I came to the Mid-West.

I should explain: My husband is a white male, that's in in credibly good shape, a lawyer, and officer in the Army. He's also very handsome and a lot of women had their eyes set on him. Well, we recently got married.

So the first time was when some people he introduced me to commented that they didn't think he was into the "Asian thing". Then these same women proceeded to not even look me in the eye, or speak to me.

Yup, cherry popped there.

Alicia

Happy holidays, MD. Hope you get everything you wish for and deserve this year. I just discovered you recently and want to say thanks for all the joy, wisdom, laughs and tears you've provided for this recently-divorced mom. You're a true mensch.

margaret

Little Kristen:

When your kids get singled out and teased in first grade for no reason BUT their Irish-Scottish-English ethnicity, then you will have a point. Until then, you really have no idea what it's like to be singled out at such a young age for racial abuse. And you know what? As a white person who grew up in a predominantly white environment, I will freely admit that I really don't truly know, on a gut-deep and visceral level, what it's like either. The difference between you and me is that I at least attempt to shut up and listen when a non-white person talks about what it's like to experience racism.

I don't appreciate men telling me, as a woman, what I should "really" think about sexism/misogyny/harassment. I don't appreciate being attacked as playing victim, lying, whining, or any number of the litany of excuses people use to avoid calling the perpetrators what they are. It should not be so difficult to extend this logic to assume that maybe non-white people don't need an Irish-Scottish-English American pontificating about how they should really feel about their own experiences.

"Perhaps people enjoy that victim mentality a little too much?"

Seriously? Did you seriously just say this to a man who related a story about his daughter being teased?

Yes, I'm sure people LOVE watching their children get hurt and upset. I'm sure people LOVE hearing racist BS from strangers for no reason. You are blaming the targets of racism for the continued existence of racism; that is victim-blaming pure and simple, and it's particularly disgusting in response to a story of an innocent CHILD enduring this.

Did you really think putting the disclaimer "I know I'm going to get flamed..." would excuse you from even a basic display of human decency?

Kyra

Ugh...I can't believe that stuff starts so young these days. Sorry to hear about what happened to the Peanut. People suck.

Grandmother

Dear Peanut,

A belated Happy Birthday!

I am writing to you because I know you have run into some mean boys at school. Well, here at Grandmother's home, my sons were raised to truly embrace diversity.

As a testament to that, Golden boy aka @childsplayx2 nephew, just turned 6 yesterday. While he is kind of nerdy, (he would LOVE spending the night at the Natural Museum and telling you all about the dinosaurs)he is very kind and very cute. I think you would hit if off and he has a younger sister who has her own iPad.

Or, how about TheMonk, @child'splay son. He would have loved your princess party and does not have any issues about dressing up or putting on make-up especially lipstick. He is very cute, too.

As for the race issue Golden Boy is Latino and Native American, Irish and a touch Scandinavian. TheMonk is also Native American, Latino, African American and a dash of Irish.

Please come to California to see for your self and to be embraced by a very diverse family. Tell dad you want to check out this weird family.

Or just come to see the original Disneyland, or vist Silicon Valley for your next birthday or the home of the 2010 World Series Champions.

Love Golden Boy's, Crazy Girl, TheMonk and Swee'Pea's Grandmother.

lisa

My kids go to an in-home daycare where they are the only white kids in group of Chinese and Indian kids.

(This was actually why I decided to have them commute to me to the diverse city where I teach, instead of the white-bread town where we live. Sorry, but after teaching in an Asian community I cannot stand other white parents anymore. Anyway...)

After a year in this daycare, my daughter suddenly went through a 3 month phase where she got all excited about being white. I'm pretty sure we never mentioned that we were white, but apparently this was a hot topic among the racially sophisticated daycare crowd she hung with.

So whenever we were in public, she liked to announce the racial status of strangers, especially when they were "WHITE, like us!" The best was when I brought her back to my elementary school with me after work one day, and she points at a random student walking across the blacktop and shouts out "That kid is BLACK!!!!!"

Great. Mrs. R has her own little Nazi alarm. Thanks, my child.

Veronica

My girlfriend and I are almost positive that we saw you and Peanut on the subway this evening. Were you guys on the downtown C train? You're both even cuter in person.

Selina Kingston

It's a shame - we think we have come so far and then it is clear that deep-rooted racism is still there no matter how hard people try to pretend it isn't

Apple

I know that you get a lot of advice but I just wanted to let you know that I think you are doing a fine job raising your little girl and your life is not much different than most everyone elses. Keep up the great post. You really make my day.

Jrock

I'll never forget my first time hearing "spic". It was fourth grade. It was from the two pretty girls on my bus. I think they just learned it themselves, and being one of a handful of "colored" kids in the school, they were excited to find someone to use it on. I knew I was different, but I never felt different until that day. Now that I think about it, I don't know that I ever thought of it this way.

I have a baby girl now and we live in Westchester County. Yes, where a "neighbor" asked me if "we had carrots" at the farmer's market one day. Yeah, I know.

Good luck MD!

Happy holidays. Sending you a man hug, just cause.

Babychili

I maintain a twitter account for the blog, and I'll admit that it's oddly addicting. Based on some highly scientific analysis, I believe you would enjoy following:

@susanorlean <- a true Twitter savant, if I've ever seen one.
@Francis_Lam
@mcsweeneys
@gemko

You could follow me, too, but I have a feeling that I tweet too much for your taste.

Mary

This was a fun article to read. It makes me feel like my life is in more control than I thought. What an interesting way to look at your little girl. I know she is great because of the way you write about her. I can not wait to read more. Six is a wonderful year for girls. There eyes are opening up to so much.

Betsy

You always have interesting things going on in your life. I feel like you have more in control than you let on but I love the read and knowing how the peanut is growing. You are doing a fine job with her.

Jolen

Hi MD, long-time reader, first time commentor. Thank you for your honesty in this post.

I am a Singaporean Chinese who moved to Chicago three years ago, and let me tell you that experiencing the onslaught of racial hatred at the grand ol' age of 27 was no fucking joke.
I was privileged enough to be raised as a racial majority in my home country, so to be suddenly put in box, labelled to no end, stereotyped, sexually harassed, teased and pitied was a big slap in the face.
It was a wake- up call.
Good things came out of it though. I am so much more aware about my racial identity,more sensitive to my own racist beliefs about others, and am more determined to reduce the power differentials in any small way I can.
If anyone from a majority race reading this would really like to experience how it is like to be ridiculed for how you were made, move far far away, right out of your comfort zone, to somewhere where you will stick right out, feel uncomfortable, and begin to ask the right questions.
Also, I highly recommend the book "Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum, an in-depth no-nonsense look into the origins and politics of race.

teahouseblossom

As the only Asian kid in most of my classes during my childhood in the Deep South, I developed a thick skin. But I often threatened people with martial arts. And it worked. It wasn't until 5 years ago that I actually bothered to learn a martial art. Now I'm truly invincible.

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Spot on with this one, it's really cool. Will wait for the next season, hope...no - I'm sure it will be nice

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My all time favourite as well! Let's look forarwd to some madness we all need some! Looking forarwd to seeing what you make of Mab's Welsh Dragon!

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So you're the organizer eh. Kakatapos lang din namin mag grorecy, ang lamig sa labas brrrrr.. Wish I could be in Pinas at this time of the year wahhhh.Have a glimpse of a Japanese outfit at my page. Happy New Year!

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also of the District has pleaded guilty in connection with the robberies which made news across the region because of where they happened and how they were executed The group often struck during the daytime at some of the areas most upscale shops shattering display cases in front of employees and customersDouglass plea though revealed for the first time the broad geographic scope of the operation In response to questions from US District Court Judge Leonie M Brinkema Douglas holding one hand behind his back acknowledged that a Saks Fifth Avenue in Richmond and Nordstrom at King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania were among the stores the group hitLocally Douglas admitted to being involved in robberies at the Michael Kors store at the Tysons II Galleria the Chanel boutique at the Gallerias Neiman Marcus store and Belleview Jewelers on Belle View Boulevard near Richmond Highway in Alexandria among othersHe acknowledged at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City on March 19 and taking more than $503000 in jewelry And he admitted to serving as the getaway driver for the a particularly notable role given that a DC police officer who spotted the getaway car crashed while following itAlthough Douglas acknowledged as a part of his plea that the group of robbers included at least five people he and Davis are the only ones to have been publicly charged so farDouglas is scheduled to be sentenced Nov 8 and on smartphone and tablet apps is just $14.The Washington Post currently offers two different digital subscription packages to fit your reading needs. So far, the legislation hasn’t gained much traction. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.C.to the — with what she actually said. Put into the near-impossible position of sitting beside her husband and assessing his defeat under the lights of our relentless media cycle Ann Romney’s offenses appear to be that she had the gall to: 1 Be a genuine human being 2 Be a protective spouse and 3 Attempt to answer the questions asked of her (For those who are experienced in the DC spin game the latter may be her gravest mistake yet)Watching the interview in its entirety and not in small bites as many critics have done I seea gracious self-deprecating and haltingly cautious political spouse doing her best to balance the delicate subject of her husband’s loss Within the context of the full interview she names many reasons for Obama’s victory including the President’s superior ground game and outreach to minority groups Her brief comment regarding the media was exactly that: A brief commentUpon reviewing the full context you’ll see that Mrs Romney was gracious (“They had a better ground game than we did that’s for sure”) self-aware (“I come on like a she-lion when it comes to defending Mitt”) and even referenced the popular 1980s cult classic film The Princess Bride joking that she was “mostly over it” with a genuine smile and a nimble laughRegarding the much-talked about segment on whether coverage of the election was “fair” Mrs Romney’s response was not particularly striking: “Anytime you are running for office you always believe you are being portrayed unfairly… I think that’s a pretty universally felt opinion”Only when pressed and directly asked by Wallace “Do you blame the media” Mrs Romney replies with a gleam in her eye and a full-throated laugh “Oh I won’t hesitate to blame the media”What more can we ask for What more do you want from a woman who was a front-row spectator to her husband’s electoral shellacking and also to the brutal post-election analysis and subsequent blame game that would send the most hardened political actor into the corner rocking in the fetal positionI won’t pretend that the interview was comfortable by any definition As a conservative Republican and Romney voter I question why the Romney’s agreed to participate in the interview I would posit that it’s impossible for almost any normal political couple (read: Anyone without the last name Clinton or Bush) to handle this interview and these questions without appearing bitter to someHowever what was most striking to me in the subsequent journalistic onslaught is that it belies the media’s lack of knowledge of the intensely personal real emotions that are felt during a campaignCampaigns are tough Really tough When you are doing it correctly campaigns are supposed to be painful exhausting adrenaline-filled and intensely personalI challenge you to find any spouse of a losing Presidential candidate who hasn’t overtly or otherwise blamed the media’s portrayal for part of the loss The faux-outrage over this relatively tame comment by Mrs Romney shows that many members of the media don’t get the passion and loyalty needed to make it on the campaign trailSomewhat ironically many of the very same critics who constantly dogged the Romney campaign for a perceived lack of genuine feeling spontaneity and emotion now balk at her honest personal candorTo succeed in politics and on the campaign trail you have to learn how to take a punch And the Romneys took quite a few many gracefully without comment Instead of glass jaw boxing perhaps those who are offended by Mrs Romney’s comment can learn from tough political actors they cover — and even from Mrs Romney herselfKirsten Borman a DC-based GOP fundraiser and political consultant is a veteran of several Congressional Statewide and Presidential elections A Florida native Borman most recently led the campaign team of Rep Daniel Webster who emerged victorious despite attacks from Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2012 and Rep Alan Grayson in 2010 Follow her on twitter at @kborman This outrage is best summed up by the usually sensible Chris Cilizza’s own headline: “With all due respect to The Fix and some of my overzealous friends in the DC media, China has embraced what it calls "a going-out strategy.
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For anyone with a passing interest in the fashion industry, it's worth a read for the name dropping alone.As became clear in the film, which chronicled the magazine's staff as they put together the 4 pound September 2007 issue, Coddington is not the Anna Wintour or Diana Vreeland type. You won't hear her barking orders at assistants or making dramatic pronouncements about pink.But she is equally passionate, a wild haired dreamer who thinks that fashion should be transporting, provocative and even intellectual, who bemoans the dominance of celebrities and digital hocus pocus in fashion photography and who isn't afraid to take on Wintour.The book is a window into how fashion has changed from a small, niche business into a global pop culture medium. It chronicles Coddington's 50 years in the industry, first as a model, then as a fashion editor for British Vogue and finally as creative director for American Vogue, with lots of juicy anecdotes about designers, photographers, celebrities and models.She compares the fashion world then and now and offers clues into her relationship with Wintour. She's also open about her private life, including details about failed marriages, the tragic death of her sister Rosemary and her 30 year romance with French hairstylist Didier Malige. She tells colorful stories behind many of the fashion shoots she has styled, but I do wish she had offered more insight into her role in the creative process.Coddington begins by painting a picture of her upbringing as romantic as any photo shoot. For her first 18 years, her home was the Trearddur Bay Hotel on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales. "Although it was bleak, I saw beauty in the bleakness." When she wasn't outdoors, she amused herself by looking at picture books, reading fairy tales and, yes, studying the pages of Vogue magazine. As a teen, she went to a convent school and has vivid memories of the nuns roller skating on the rooftop, "flapping about surreally in their robes like crows on wheels."At 18, she moved to London to attend a modeling course advertised in Vogue. The fashion world was much different in 1959. Coddington had to learn how to apply her own makeup and style her own hair, because makeup artists and hairdressers specializing in photo shoots were nonexistent. A meeting with photographer Norman Parkinson led to her first modeling job running naked through the woods for an arty fashion catalog.Coddington became an overnight success. "I was a character, rather than a pretty model, and I suppose that's exactly what I look for in the girls I now select to put in American Vogue the ones who are quirky looking."She earned the nickname "The Cod" (to Jean Shrimpton's "The Shrimp"), danced the twist on Mary Quant's catwalk and became a muse to Vidal Sassoon, who created his famous five point cut on Coddington. Her modeling career was derailed for two years by a car accident, which scarred her left eyelid. But eventually things picked up again, and she settled into life in 1960s swinging London and Paris, hanging out with a fast crowd that included Michael Caine, Jane Birkin, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.Her fashion editing career coincided with the beginning of her relationship with Michael Chow and the opening of his glamorous restaurant Mr. Chow, which attracted a starry crowd. "Naturally, we were forever being photographed at home, draped among our symbols of 'with it ness' as one of London's most happening couples; him, the cool young restaurateur, nonchalantly swinging in a hammock hung from the minstrel's gallery and me, the sophisticated style maker, perkily sitting cross legged atop a giant pop art version of a Campbell's soup can."At the height of the bohemian 1970s, she dyed her hair with henna and permed it (it would stay the same for much of the next 40 years), dressed almost exclusively in Yves Saint Laurent, had a fling with a Vietnamese photographer and spent her evenings at Club Sept in Paris. Coddington worked with the who's who of fashion. She shot Anjelica Huston with photographer David Bailey and Pat Cleveland with Helmut Newton.When Bea Miller, who had edited British Vogue for 22 years, retired, Coddington interviewed for the job but says she knew deep down she wasn't suited for it and thought that Wintour, then the creative director of American Vogue, should get it.Wintour did get it. Two days into her editorship, she invited Coddington to a screening of the racy film "Betty Blue." The two sat in dead silence through the opening sequence, a vivid five minute sex scene."Anna was rigid and unmoving. No sign of any emotion at all," Coddington writes. "I then realized how much significance Anna places on willpower trumping feelings."In 1988, when Wintour was appointed editor in chief at American Vogue, Coddington asked to join her. Coddington's narrative style fashion features and travelogues, a sampling of which appear in the book, became the heart and soul of the magazine, even as its pages became increasingly taken over by celebrities. Through her visual canvases, she interpreted the New Romantic period, grunge and the South Beach blinged out 1990s, and persuaded superstar designers Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs and others to play roles in a shoot based on "Alice in Wonderland."She sums up her creative process this way: "For me, one of the most important aspects of my work is to give people something to dream about, just as I used to dream all those years ago as a child looking at beautiful photographs."The book ends with a chapter on then and now. "Fashion has changed so much in my lifetime," Coddington writes. "Today, I find myself at the collections, asking, 'Who are all these people?' Sometimes I think I'm the last remaining person who comes to the shows for the pleasure of seeing the clothes."At 71, she seldom wears makeup and doesn't socialize much. But her attempt in the last 100 pages to distance herself from the term "fashionista" is a bit of a stretch. Clearly, Coddington has led a most charmed life. Otherwise, we wouldn't be reading about it.We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

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