ATR 18 – Mar 6, 2006 – Voicemail 206-203-3983 –

The sensationalism surrounding the recently born U.K. twins (“one black! one white!”) and the upcoming race-swapping reality show Black. White are the subjects of our guest rant from Dr. Joseph L. Graves, pre-eminent evolutionary biologist and author of The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America.

Carmen discusses the recent trend of going undercover to “expose” prejudice against various marginalized groups (e.g. Tyra Banks in the fatsuit). She also discusses a recent Wired magazine cover story on Keanu Reeves, and wonders if his racially ambiguous look can explain why he has been cast in so many interesting sci fi films (a.k.a. mixed=futuristic). Finally, she discusses a recent article about former Miss Universe Brook Lee who is resisting pressure to “pass” as Latina or white and audition for non-Asian roles. Should actors just go for the roles they can get? Or do they have a responsibility to portray characters that reflect their ethnic heritage?

Claire Light discusses why we need to challenge the idealized notions of mixed race identity that are so prevalent. You know, ideas like “mixed people will bring about the end of racism.” Check out her article The Multiracial Dream on Pop + Politics. You can read more of her work on Other Magazine’s staff blog, as well as Claire’s personal blog at

Jen interviews Alice Sandosharaj, Bode Wise Fellow of American Studies at the University of Maryland about the concept of the model minority and how it impacts Asian-Americans and African-Americans. Who benefits from the model minority myth and who is unfairly victimized by it? Prof. Sandosharaj posits that the discussion of privilege should extend beyond white privilege.

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Duration – 1:46:45
File Size – 49 MB
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16 thoughts on “ATR 18 – Mar 6, 2006 – Voicemail 206-203-3983 –”

  1. The interview with Professor Sandosharaj was great. I think she should return the painting, though.

  2. I agree with the idea that actors shouldn’t have to conform to Hollywood’s stereotypes about race – and thus reinforce them. I mean, why can Halle Berry play leading Black women but Brook Lee can’t play leading Asian women – when they’re both half-White? And Lucy Liu played a hapa in Charlie’s Angels, but a true hapa must play a Latina? WTF? And, how many Asian men get rejected for roles because they don’t look like William Hung?

    Obviously, art is used to define life here and these racial Hollywood portrayals are highly self-selective.

    I think Hollywood’s narrow precepts about what races “should” look like only enforces all these undiverse stereotypes and leaves out a lot of true diversity within each race.

    What if you had an Asian who didn’t look so “stereotypically Asian” (say, Ken Hirai) simply play himself – as an Asian. Instead of some other falsified ethnic origin. Wouldn’t this then broaden what the public perceives as “Asian” – instead of reinforcing existing limited definitions? Why should Hollywood be more concerned with what people expect (vastly-distinct phenotypical groupings with little crossover), then what is really out there?

  3. alice sandoharaj is brilliant and i hope she is on the show again.

    brook lee can’t play an asian because she is darker and looks more latina than asian.

  4. brook lee can’t play an asian because she is darker and looks more latina than asian.

    And yet she is half-Asian…and zero Latina.

    Therefore – what is wrong – your perception of how Asians are “supposed” to look – or the reality of how they really look?

    You exhibit the classic case of perception bias – where you see only what you expect to see, and ignore the rest.

    It is this same Hollywood presumption that “real Asians” must have extreeeemmely exotic features that even full Asians like Lucy Liu don’t even qualify as having (and thus play hapas).

    And true mixed-Asian hapas like Brook Lee, Keanu Reeves, Brandon Lee, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Rob Schneider, Margaret Chan (Meg Tilly)), etc all must play NON-Asians. Gee, why can’t they just play HAPAS, though?

    Instead, they all generally pass as White and play some White character with a White surname.

    All this Whiteface does is reinforce exotic stereotypes of what Asians are “supposed” to look and act like.

    I’m sure a lot of people have gotten comments that they don’t look like the ethnicity that they are. But instead of questioning his own perceptual bias, the observer tends to question the object instead (why he doesn’t fit his stereotype?).

    Bottom line is: You’re obviously not a very intelligent person. Please become aware of that and work on it, if possible.

  5. i was criticizing your comment. the interview suggested that the mainstream media and mainstream america won’t see her as asian but asians would like all varieties of asians to play asians.

  6. “brook lee can’t play an asian because she is darker and looks more latina than asian.”

    But she is asian so she should be allowed to play asian.

    My mum’s chinese but people think she’s filipino – that doesn’t make her not chinese, it just means people don’t know as much as they think they do about little race boxes.

    i’m mixed race and have been mistaken for the full gamut of races and combinations of races. Maybe if hollywood would allow for greater diversity (within ‘races’, not just number of ‘races’) then i wouldn’t have to defend myself everytime someone wants to tell me – “no, no your mum couldn’t be chinese, you don’t look half.”

  7. I’m full-Chinese but most don’t believe that at first and assume I’m mixed.


    I think a lot of it has to do with the prevailing tiny little box of what people think a “Chinese” “should” look like (William Hung). So, if we are to fight stereotypes…shouldn’t we be trying to break open these boxes…instead of reinforcing them?

    Right now, these actors that “look the part” are totally self-selected and thus the stereotypes artifically perpetuated. Any Asian that doesn’t “look the part,” simply doesn’t get cast and seen.

    So, KUDOS to BROOK LEE for taking a stand and not selling out – unlike her “Aunty Tan” sistas like Lucy Liu, etc…

    Unfortunately, Hollywood is a stereotype factory and probably the last place for change to come. I believe we have a better shot in the “real world” where we can prove our mettle more on ability alone. Life first, art second..

  8. But she is asian so she should be allowed to play asian.

    My mum’s chinese but people think she’s filipino – that doesn’t make her not chinese, it just means people don’t know as much as they think they do about little race boxes.

    geez louise folks. i was referring to the interview which said she can’t play asian because the mainstream media won’t let her.

  9. The last writer is dead on when they comment that, “Hollywood is…probably the last place for change to come.” That is the bottom line. Do not look to people who are laying out millions to suddenly become mixed-race trailblazers. Most movies are produced to make a profit. As such, they are not intrinsically filled with social awareness and diversity. They are only progressive insomuch as prevailing market research thinks they can be while still returning a profit.
    Due to social pressure from an ever growing group of ethnically diverse consumers who are demanding better visibility as they participate in the economy, we are seeing more and more “mainstream” media deal with issues such as mixed race and the resulting subcultures. There is not a single ethnic group that is really accurately represented in the media. Stereotypes rule the big screen from the drunken Irishman and the criminal Italian to the thug-looking African-American and the Asian who saves us from ourselves with some ancient tradition. We could take up several blogs just listing all of the stereotypes, and yet, this is the crap that sells so Hollywood keeps churning it out.
    All stories are basically three parts. You have the beginning with its introduction and background. You have the conflict. You have the resolution. Look at any movie that is out recently and you will see this pattern. In fact, if you look closer, you may see that from a group of 100 movies, you really only have 3 or 4 basic stories. Without a conflict there is no story, period. It is only the conflict that truly makes a story compelling.
    Hollywood movies are big business. Big, successful businesses are conservative. When we all demand better with our wallets we may find movies that better reflect the reality of the diversity that exists both within and between races.

  10. The reason why halle barry can play the leading black woman is because she is black. Simply because one of your parents is white doesn’t take you out of the phenotypical spectrum of how various black people look around the world, particularly in the U.S. blacks have a much larger gene pool, and it shows! Other people’s around the world are more refined in their physical appearances.

  11. ^ Or perhaps you just have a narrower definition of what an Asian must look like?

    It’s phenotypical pigeonholing like that why nobody can ever believe I am full Chinese. I’ve experienced this my whole life – probably much like the “hapa experience” of “what are you’s” and “no, you can’t be Chinese” you’re “mixed!”

    Reality is, I fall within the Chinese “range,” but in this country, if you’re over 5’8,” aren’t wearing a bamboo hat and don’t look like William Hung…then you “can’t” be Chinese and “must” be mixed!

    And that same tiny box is why Lucy gets cast as hapa and a hapa as Latina!

  12. Meredith C Gourdine
    #3,449,667, 6/10/1969, Electrogasdynamic coating system
    #3,573,845, 4/6/1971, Improved acoustic image reproduction system using a piezoelectric printer and electrogasdynamics
    #3,581,468, 6/1/1971, Electrogasdynamic systems and methods
    #3,582,694, 6/1/1971, Turbulence inducing electrogasdynamic precipitator
    #3,585,420, 6/15/1971, Alternating current systems employing multiple electrogasdynamic devices
    #3,592,541, 7/13/1971, Copying system using electrogasdynamics
    #3,612,923, 10/12/1971, Electrogasdynamic converter with resistive channel
    #3,613,993, 10/19/1971, Electrostatic painting method and apparatus
    #3,650,092, 3/21/1972, Electrogasdynamic precipitator utilizing retarding fields
    #3,673,463, 6/27/1972, Method and apparatus for electrogasdynamic coating
    #3,704,572, 12/5/1972, Electrostatic precipitator system
    #3,718,029, 2/27/1973, Electrostatic mass per unit volume dust monitor
    #3,757,491, 9/11/1973, Apparatus for suppressing airborne particles
    #4,433,003, 2/21/1984, Electrogasdynamic coating system
    #4,498,631, 2/12/1985, Electrogasdynamic coating system
    #4,555,909, 12/3/1985, Method and apparatus for improved cooling of hot materials
    #4,574,092, 3/4/1986, Electrogasdynamic method and apparatus for detecting the properties of particulate matter entrained in gases
    #4,850,537, 7/25/1989, Method and apparatus for producing multivortex fluid flow
    #4,671,805, 6/6/1987, Method for airport fog precipitation
    #4,916,033, 4/10/1990, Method and apparatus for converting chemical and thermal energy into electricity
    #5,297,005, 3/22/1994, Apparatus and method for cooling heat generating electronic components in a cabinet
    #5,422,787, 6/6/1995, Apparatus and method for cooling heat generating electronic components in a cabinet
    #5,456,596, 10/10/1995, Method and apparatus for producing multivortex fluid flow
    #5,487,957, 1/30/1996, Method and apparatus for converting chemical and thermal energy into electricity
    #5,548,907, 8/27/1996, Method and apparatus for transferring heat, mass, and momentum between a fluid and a surface

    This is just an example of one of many black inventors that were never acknowleged for their intellectual contributions to American society and the world.

    I’m hoping that very soon you guys will do a radio program on this issue. thanks.

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