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I sat down to write about the fallout that’s ensued since ESPN editor Anthony Federico wrote that “Chink In The Armor” headline a little over a week ago, and I ended up with a bunch of stories about myself. In some ways though, I think these notes better articulate my frustration and anger over many of the conversations that have taken place about Jeremy Lin with regard to race than explicit words to that effect would have. Or maybe I just really like talking about myself.
For most of my life, I’ve been a sports fan. I was born and raised in Texas, so it was mandatory. More to the point, I was born and raised Chinese American in Texas. I couldn’t look like my peers, I couldn’t be accepted as an equal by many of my peers, but I could root for the same teams as my peers. And somewhere deep down, I probably figured that if I could demonstrate the same devotion to the idols of my peers, they would eventually come around to the idea that I wasn’t all that different from them, and perhaps even accept me as one of their own.
My father arrived in College Station, Texas from Taiwan in 1965 on a student visa. Continue reading Chink In The Stands, An Asian American Fan’s Notes
Filed under: #1 Fan, Alex Rodriguez, Asian Americans, Chink, Chink in the Armor ESPN, Chink in the Armor Headline, Dwight Clark, ESPN, Fandom, Houston Rockets, Jeremy Lin, Joe Montana, MLB, NBA, New York Knicks, NFL, Pudge Rodriguez, Race Dialogue, Race Discussions, Racist Slurs, San Francisco 49ers, Sports, Sports Fans, Taiwanese-Americans, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Rangers, The Catch, The Dallas Cowboys, Wen Ho Lee
Last week on Sean Hannity’s show, Newt Gingrich made an exciting campaign promise:
“I know how to get the whole country to resemble Texas.”
Which is an interesting idea, to say the least. After all, there are lots of things I love that are from Texas:
- Jen’s parents
- Dr. Pepper
- BBQ sauce
- The Black Angels, Spoon, Toadies, Butthole Surfers, Buck Owens
- Frito pie
- The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (Why not?)
- The NASA Johnson Space Center
- The “Don’t Mess With Texas” Campaign
But unless we’re talking about a nation made up of millions of chicly-dressed, too-smart blogger friends and their lovely Hardass Asian Parents, swilling Dr. P while dousing Frito pie with kay-so and some BBQ sauce, blasting The Black Angels on eleven, picking up litter, all the while doing high kicks in white short-shorts in celebration of a new NASA mission… I’m not sure I’m ready for a whole country run like The Lone Star state. And I have a feeling that Newt isn’t really promising what I listed (except maybe the short-shorts).
But let us not discount the achievements of Texas. After all, thanks to its stellar governance, Texas has become nationally ranked in multiple areas that concern public life, education, and health.
According to PFAW’s Right Wing Watch blog, Texas ranks:
50th in percentage of population without health insurance (2010)50th in percentage of children insured (2009)50th in percentage of women receiving early prenatal care (2010)45th in rate of infectious diseases (2010)44th in percentage of children in poverty (2010)42nd in per capita health care funding (2010)40th in overall health (2010)36th in high school graduation rate (2010)35th in crime (2010)35th in percentage of children immunized (2010)34th in rate of occupational fatalities (2010)30th in percentage of people with college degree (2008)
Texas also ranks: Continue reading “Don’t Mess With America” Does Roll Off The Tongue
13 year-old Asher Brown was an 8th grader at Hamilton Middle School in Cypress, TX who killed himself last Thursday because, according to his parents, he was bullied at school. The Houston Chronicle reports that Asher was bullied for being small and for not wearing designer clothes; MSNBC reports that he was also singled out for being Buddhist and having a lisp. Most of all, his stepfather David Truong and mother Amy Truong believe, Asher Brown was bullied for being gay.
The Truongs now say that they had complained to Hamilton Middle School officials repeatedly over the last 18 months about the harassment Asher experienced, but their phone calls went unanswered and their visits to the school failed to stop the bullying. The school district of which Hamilton is a part, Cy-Fair I.S.D., is denying that they ever received complaints from the Truongs, other students, or school employees.
This story hits home for me because that’s exactly where it takes place. I grew up in Cypress, TX. I graduated from the Cy-Fair school district, attending both middle and high school there. The house that I grew up in is 2.5 miles away from Hamilton Middle School, which is listed on its website as a “2010 Texas Exemplary School.” I actually would have gone to Hamilton had it existed when I was that age.
It’s been many, many years since I’ve lived in Cypress, and it has changed considerably from the small town on the outskirts of northwest Houston that it once was. The woods I used to play in behind my subdivision and the ones surrounding so many homes in the area are mostly gone, built-up with more subdivisions, box stores, gas stations, grocery stores, mini-malls, and malls.
The demographics have changed, too. Of the 1620 students enrolled at Hamilton Middle School this year, 7.3% are Asian. I’d have to dig up my old yearbooks to figure out what the percentage was back when I was in middle school, but I’m guessing it was less than half that number. I wasn’t the only Asian kid in school, but it sometimes felt that way. Back then, I was teased and bullied for being different; I was called “chink,” “gook,” “jap,” “snake eyes”; the very first high school football game I ever went to, an older kid ching-chonged me in front of hundreds of other spectators; people screamed from their cars at me and my family to “Go back to where you came from”; even my so-called “friends” told me one year at church camp that I could never date outside my race because the Bible said it was wrong. Still I feel like I had it easier than others because I was a girl–only once did someone threaten to kick my ass out by the school buses. Twice, if you count the time I voted for the Democratic candidate in a 7th grade mock election Continue reading Asher Brown’s Suicide Hits Home
Filed under: Asher Brown, Asher Brown Bullied For Being Gay, Asher Brown Suicide, Being Different, Bullying, Cy-Fair ISD, Cypress TX, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Gay Teens, Hamilton Middle School, Hometowns, Homophobia, Misfits, Opal Hamilton Middle School, RIP, Shame, Texas, You Can Never Go Home Again
Oh, how that sneaky Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) toys with our emotions! We never know how we’re gonna feel about him (okay, pretty sure we love the guy–but he sure can bum us out) on any given day. He’s always so full of surprises!
Earlier this week, during BP America President Lamar McKay‘s public shaming congressional testimony regarding the Gulf oil spill, Cao said what we’re sure lots of people are thinking, but would never say aloud:
“Mr. Stearn asked Mr. McKay to resign. In the Asian culture we do things differently. During the Samurai days, we would just give you a knife and ask you to commit Hari-Kari [sic]. My constituents are still debating on what they want me to ask you to do, but that being said, the cleaning up process has been a disgrace and the claims process has been dismal…”
Of course the comments were extreme and Cao has since stated that they were meant only to convey his level of frustration with BP, but dayum! We couldn’t have scripted his words better if we tried ( okay, we did try, but it wasn’t any better).
Rep. Joseph Barton (R-TX), on the other hand, did the opposite this week. When it was his turn to speak during BP CEO Tony Hayward’s public shaming congressional testimony, he said what nobody else would say aloud, and uh, NOBODY ELSE WAS THINKING:
Filed under: Apologies, BP, BP America President, BP CEO, Congressional Testimony, Culf Coast, Culf of Mexico, Gulf Coast Oil Spill, Gulf Coast Oil Spill Clean-up, Hardass Asian Politicians, Harikiri, Investigation, Joseph Barton Apologizes for Apologizing to BP, Joseph Barton Apologizes to BP, Joseph Cao, Lack of Preparasian, Lamar McKay, Louisiana, Political Suicide, Politicians, Public Apologies, Rep. Joseph Barton, Rep. Joseph Cao, Republicans, Ritual Suicide, Texas, Tony Hayward
From a recent Dallas Morning News story about white, Latino, and black parents sending their children to Chinese school:
And Jamal Abu, a black student at Dallas Chinese School, started taking algebra classes there after his mother determined he needed extra help. Jamal, a freshman at John Horn High School in Mesquite, said he’s performing better as a result of his weekend classes.
And it doesn’t feel weird to be a non-Asian at Dallas Chinese School, he said.
“There’s no stereotype, as long as you just don’t be making fun of Chinese people, because Chinese people are kinda cool,” said Jamal, 14.
Somebody give this kid a TV network to run.
It doesn’t matter, man. We feel you, we feel you.
Yeah, yeah, I’ve got my home state on the brain today. A lot of shizzle’s been goin’ down lately in the Lone Star State and with its star athletes. Here’s a quick rundown:
Yao is out for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. Which means Rocket fans are gonna be seeing a lot of Big ‘n’ Tall suits on display for the rest of the season, and not much else. Terrible news after coming off a 12 game win-streak. There’s no Booyao! coming out of H-town today, just boohoo.
TRAPPED IN THE STEROIDS CLOSET
Duuuuude. The Roger Clemens steroids debacle has taken on a weird, R. Kelly-esque twist [oh shit], and I’m proposing a new name for this mess: TITJOB-GATE. Apparently, Congress has received photographic evidence of Clemens partying with Jose “Got More Juice than Jamba” Canseco in 1998, an event that Clemens, under oath, has said he did not attend. It has been alleged that Clemens first talked about doing ‘roids at this party, and that the 7-time Cy Young winner often openly reminisced about that night because his wife Debbie and Jose’s wife Jessica had compared TITJOBS. [titjobs...titjobs...titjobs...]
Oh, and raise your hand if you ever thought Andy Pettite would turn out to be not as dumb as he looks?
JUST KEEP BALLIN’, MAN
And, finally, some good news. Matthew McConaughey is stoned!!! And preggo!!! And people are buzzing about his Texas Longhorns taking the national title in basketball. Everyone is stoked, except for my family, who are all Aggies. But Mom, Dad…don’t you want to get on that dirty, greazy bandwagon (to the right)??? Hook ‘em Wooderson!!!
Hails from: Austin, Texas, bitches
Occupation: Austin City Council Member
Why She’s a Babe: Cuz Council Members aren’t supposed to look like that. Because Kim is half-Korean and half-Chinese, reprzent!, and the first Asian-American elected to that position. And because when Jen saw her on CNN at the Texas Democratic Debate last week, she was, like, “Damn, how did Ming-Na get time away from managing a boy band to talk politics?!?”
Kim is up for a tough re-election in May. She is not well-liked in Austin, and several critics have called her “arrogant.” We don’t doubt it, and, oh, who the fuck cares?
Like so many other voters yesterday, I decided who to choose at the last minute. Even while standing in line at my neighborhood polling place, which was set up at the gay-friendly Episcopal church down the street, I was still undecided. My kooky neighbors–who were either volunteering or voting–distracted me from my sweaty palms and shortness of breath with gossip about our block, chitchat about the writers’ strike ending, and their frizzy, hippie hairstyles.
So who, in the end, did I vote for?
I voted for this guy:
…twenty-four years ago. I was in junior high then and taking Texas History, a requirement by state law. From the start, I was having a tough year. I had flat hair and an even flatter chest. I had to lobby my mother to get a bra just so I wouldn’t get weird looks in the locker room after gym class, and I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup. The boy I had a crush on (who was Muslim and is now, apparently, a Christian minister) had a pet name for me: “Snake Eyes.” The highlight of that very awkward year was my getting…braces. I actually thought that I looked prettier with a mouth full of metal.
Texas History was basically a propaganda class, and what I learned in a year could be distilled down to this: Those Dirty Mexicans tried to steal Texas away from Us, but We sure showed Them. I remember doing a skit about the quote-unquote Texas Revolution for that class where I played a Mexican soldier, naturally, in General Santa Ana’s army (who led the charge on the Alamo). I had one line and it was “Holy Guacamole,” spoken, naturally, with a Taco Bell accent.
During that year, our class took a few breaks from Mexican-bashing to study things of a broader interest, like the 1984 presidential race, during which former-VP-under-Carter, Walter Mondale, ran against the incumbent Reagan. My teacher even held a mock Election Day.
My parents weren’t U.S. citizens at the time, but they had distinct political views, nonetheless, that I had absorbed. Our first pet was a cat named “Jimmy,” after Carter. We had almost called him “Jesse,” after Jackson. We didn’t like Reagan, and we mockingly referred to him as “Ronnie” in my house. I knew, even at that age, that I was a Democrat.
Mock Election Day in 1984 was exciting. Geraldine Ferraro, Mondale’s running mate, was the first woman ever on a presidential ballot. She looked tough and mean, and I dug her. I thought the race might be a close one. I’m not sure where I got that notion, since my only sources of information then were Time magazine and the evening news.
My junior high was being renovated that year, so class sizes doubled with the diminished amount of rooms. Our classroom consisted of two small rooms put together, and half of the class faced the other, with the teacher’s desk in the middle. I forget the exact number of students in my class, but let’s just say that there were about forty of us. When the votes were tallied on mock Election Day, 39 of my fellow students had voted for Reagan and only one for Mondale.
It was a landslide that mirrored the real election, where Reagan carried 49 out of 50 states. Only Mondale’s home state of Minnesota and D.C. reprzented for “the other side.” Ouch.
Speaking of ouch, after my teacher announced the winner, the boys in Texas History wanted to know who the fuck had voted for Mondale. They vowed to kick that faggot’s ass. They quickly came up with a list of suspects; number one on that list was Troy, the lone male flute player at our school. The rest of the period disintegrated into angry chatter and threat-making. Dissent was our enemy. Dissent was for fags. Dissent had to, therefore, be crushed.
I never told a soul that I was the one until long after high school. It felt at the time like a secret I’d take to my grave. A few years ago, I published a short story based on that experience. And now I’ve told you. If there’s one moment from my childhood that best illustrates the difference between where I come from and where I am today, that’s it.
Dissent is what’s made the 2008 race exciting and unique. I hope we can continue to figure out who we are and how we want to be represented without knocking each other down in the process.
Japanese wagyu beef (aka “Kobe beef”) is being raised in my home state of Texas. The AP reports that Rancher Jose Antonio Elias Calles began raising his grass-fed herd of 11 cows twelve years ago, and in the intervening years it has grown to 5,000, the largest herd of Akaushi cattle outside of Japan. Calles sells the beef under the name “HeartBrand” in limited quantities. These cows are kept away from American cattle, so as not to contaminate their gene pool, and they’re guarded by off-duty Texas Rangers. So don’t mess with ‘em, y’all!
Click here for full story.