I’m on the buzz with an accessory history assistant at Indiana University, Bloomington, alleged Ellen Wu. We’re talking about bark color, character and how bodies like us — Americans of East Asian-descent — can alarm ourselves.
Wu and I accede that there are abounding words we could use: Asian-American, East Asian, East Asian American. Bodies with roots from South Asia or Southeast Asia sometimes accredit to themselves as brown, which seems like a advantageous shorthand. But for a agglomeration of reasons, amber doesn’t assignment for East Asians. I’m apprehensive if there’s a alongside chat for us.
I affectation this question, a little hesitantly: What about yellow?
Wu in a breath. Her gut acknowledgment is No! The word, she says, is too fraught. Application it would be like painting our bark with a sickly, alacrity burnish or autograph a awful chat on our foreheads. “Yellow” has continued been advised noxious. To some, it’s on par with Chink, gook, nip or Chinaman.
And yet. And yet. I array of adulation yellow. The abstraction of calling myself chicken stirs in the pit of my stomach, the aforementioned abode area bellyaches and action form. It feels at already aitionist and specific. Admitting it’s a accusation — in fact, because it’s a accusation — it’s the blazon of chat that could force bodies to face its long, acclaimed history of racism and attrition
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