Inter|national section writer
Julian Ignacio Canlas is a Filipino international undergraduate studying English Literature with Creative Writing at UEA. In the committee of five different societies, he always fantasises about having free time, though becoming restless when time is actually free. He has an unhealthy obsession for identity, politics, language, and culture. You can find him in the UEA library or nap/lounge with a perpetual stank face.
David Dao: the 69 year old Asian doctor physically assaulted by a security official, in an oversold United Airlines flight, in a video that went viral. David Dao: an ex-felon convicted of exchanging prescription drugs for gay sex – his chequered past aired out in a media spectacle.
(25/02/17) – Beyond the Binary//A call for non-binary identities
In October 2015, South Asian trans performer and activist Alok Vaid-Menon called for more visibility of folx that do not fit the man/woman binary. While various media outlets proclaim that we are at a ‘transgender tipping point’, an unprecedented period of visibility for trans-people, Vaid-Menon argues that those non-conforming don’t necessarily reap the benefits of this time. After all, this tipping point revolves around trans-celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox and Ian Harvie, who visibly fit into the archetypal aesthetics of either manhood, or womanhood.
(13.11.16) – One-Party State
herself for independence
Patron saint of privileged beggars
she petrifies old edifices to fix
She bleaches the open fields
and the streets
She ceases to bleed
The body curses its own
(19.10.16) – Whitewashing of Mental Health
TW: Mental health, racialised violence, racism
The first session at the psychotherapist is always tough. Your psychiatrist is a lanky white man presumably in his 50s. There’s a mosaic of framed medical certificates hanging behind his desk. You’re an 18-year old brown-skinned boy slumped back on this armchair that’s supposed to feel comfortable, but really the fake leather sticks coldly against your sweaty back. He asks about various aspects of your life to get a better evaluation: family history, school, suicide, self-harm, homelessness. He tries to sound nice—this condescendingly sweet falsetto undermined by the mechanical typing in of your diagnosis. Every time you spill yourself, you feel the room closing in.
(05.10.16) – Empire
(in support of Black Lives Matter)
a, pustule, fleshspun, pierced, when,
echoes, become, loud, and, silenced—loudly silenced—
when, burdens, are, called, gifts—processes, of, unintuition,
when, killing, becomes, justified, as, horror, of, the, natural,
Isaiah 11:2 New International Version (NIV)
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
Tristan does so without the fear of God, like a pinprick—
a spitting image of all those heretics and unknown curses—
no doubt, in this bog of a living room, where moments
of explosions become dictators, pushing him headfirst
(24.08.16) – Racial Pluralism in the Olympics
The 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil, has resulted in a lot of firsts. Nine countries are celebrating their first ever gold medal, including first-time entrant Kosovo, whose sovereignty the Olympics committee recognised only two years ago. The Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) was also formed to ‘bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis’. Despite not having won any medals, their significance lies in their representation. The ROT acts as a symbol of hope to those who have been forcefully displaced from their home country that the dreams of these displaced athletes will happen despite all the unfair hardships, injustices and atrocities they have experienced.
(10.08.16) – Each person is a fish
the room gleams like water–all of them here are fish
from either the sea or the lake, salt and fresh,
their fins flapping–a vision of ecstasy, the smell–
pungent redefined, their slippery scales glimmering
in their pursuit of perfection. how do they survive
(04.08.16) – Neoliberalism
drank from lakes
that turned out to be droughts
cut our lids
to see the future
mined coal with safety pins.
‘It’s time for celebration, not gawking
at deaths crushed by credit,’ you say.
(11.07.16) – The Consequences of the Iraq War
Content warning: mentions sexual abuse, torture, Islamophobia
On 15 February 2003, the now-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out to the largest anti-war demonstration in British political history. In front of two million people at Hyde Park, London, he exclaimed, ‘Stop now or pay the political price!’ He was warning about the consequences of attacking Iraq.
Content warning: mentions racism, homophobia, suicide, arson, massacre, mental health
On June 12th 2016, a mass shooting happened at Pulse, gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, USA. 49 people were killed and 52 injured, mostly of Latinx descent. Across the world, lgbtQ+ communities and allies have been organising vigils and other events to express support and condolences.
‘Look, you don’t understand this because you’re not gay,’ Owen Jones said, before storming out of a Sky News debate on the massacre, after the two presenters refused to see the incident in a lgbtQ+ context.
(17.05.16) – Rodrigo Duterte: Pro LGBT, Proletariat Dictatorship
‘I don’t care if I go to hell as long as the people I serve will live in paradise.’
Rodrigo Duterte’s personal politics is defined by a confusing blend of liberal and authoritarian beliefs. His politics have certainly elicited a wide variety of reactions, capturing the imagination of even the Western media outlets through racist depictions of international politics—or not. Even more varied and stranger are his supporters, ranging from religious leaders to the LGBT community, to sex workers and farmers. So how exactly did the new president of the Philippines, dubbed ‘The Punisher’, manage to enthrall the masses?
(10.05.16) – The Inherently Radical Identity Of Multiculturalism
‘You are not alive to please the aesthetic of colonized eyes’
– Ijeoma Umebinyuo
An interesting thing happens when fully-assimilated BME in the West engage in politics, whilst retaining and proudly displaying their multicultural and racial identities as minorities—they become characterised as ‘radical’ and disruptive to the everyday function of society. Here are examples of how various politicking non-white figures have been portrayed:
- Prior to Sadiq Khan becoming mayor of London on May 2016, Khan suffered from smear attacks by Zac Goldsmith. Goldsmith’s attacks included ‘Sadiq Khan won’t stand up for London’s Tamil community’ and ‘his party supports a wealth tax on family jewellery,’ with the latter based upon the uncomfortable, racist assumption that this taxation is a defining political issue for South Asians. Goldsmith also branded Khan as a ‘radical,’ belonging to ‘a Labour party that thinks terrorists is its friends’.
- The newly-elected first Black Muslim president of the NUS, Malia Bouattia, depicted as an ISIS supporter for having been against a 2011 motion condemning ISIS, because of its apparent wording that demonises all Muslims, despite later supporting a revised version condemning ISIS and Islamophobia. She has also been criticised as anti-Semitic despite publicly declaring her stance as anti-Zionist due to Israel’s continued violation of human rights by its continued military occupation of Palestine.
(Writer’s note: I specifically wrote this article focusing on East and South-East Asian portrayals. Despite being in the same continent, I do think that South Asian and Western Asian representations in media differ vastly from those of East and South-East Asians.)
There’s no doubt: East and South-East Asians in mainstream media can’t exist without being reduced into racist caricatures. Asians, including me, cannot exist beyond the characterisation of our slant eyes, buckteeth, and thick accent. We are good at maths, martial arts, and being meek. We are not artists, but tech geniuses. We cannot be main characters, only sidekicks. Only comic reliefs, either sexless nerds or docile sex fetishes, and ladyboys. Because if we do, we turn white.
On 9th and 31st March, a series of protests unfolded throughout France. Students and workers came together to reject the reform on the labour code proposed by the current French Minister of labour, Myriam El Khomri. But what does this reform—the El Khomri law—really represent? And, with 71% of French people against the El Khomri law, why is it considered to be detrimental for wage earners?