Jeremy Lin: Life of an Asian Athlete

I’m not saying that it is hard to grow up in Oak Park as a half white half asian boy, but our bubble isn’t always as perfect as it is made out to be. There have been times where I have felt the pressure of orientalism; most notably when I have played sports.

There are many prejudices and assumptions I’m sure people unintentionally make when they hear that I am asian. I’m sure the possibility of me being smart is pondered. I’m sure my height might come into question. One thing that is probably not assumed is my athleticism. Since I could stand, my parents had me playing soccer and baseball. My love of sports only grew when I began to understand the competitive nature of winning and losing.

This continued into elementary school where I began to hoop. Basketball has been one of the great loves in my life. My interest has risen and fallen over the years, but back in fourth grade, when my love for basketball was at maybe an all time high, I began to really follow professional basketball. Coincidently and almost simultaneously, one of the greatest runs of any professional athlete of all time occurred. Jeremy Lin had one of the best two weeks of basketball anybody has ever had. He scored points, hit game winners, and he even beat Kobe.

If you look at professional sports today, I could probably list all of the professional athletes in both the NBA and NFL that are asian without running out of any fingers. It was even worse back when Linsanity happened. Linsanity was huge for me. I was finally able to see someone who like me is asian and was able to make it.

Ever since Linsanity, one of the go-to things my opponents have called me on the court is Jeremy Lin, which I would retort “[expletive] you, I’m Kobe.” But nowadays, when I hear it I’m proud that at least there was an asian good enough and famous enough that when people talk to me on the court there is somebody’s name they can call me.

Sex, Gender, and Orientalism

Typical examples of Orientalism, at least historical examples, seem to have a preoccupation with gender, power, and sex. In the interview with Edward Said, many paintings are shown depicting women in positions of sensual weakness, either being generally exposed or being aggressively handled by men. This idea of women being sexual objects to be used by men carries over into many of the more popular concepts in Orientalism. The concept of the harem, for example, is one where several women are in a sense owned by one central man and are used by him for sex, often existing in addition to the man’s wife or wives.

There is also the concept, popular in times of over conflict between the United States and the Middle East, of the ravaging Middle Eastern man sexually assaulting women and children in battle. This concept is not exclusive to Oriental/Middle Eastern stereotypes, but it goes hand in hand with depictions of Islam in Middle Eastern countries being one with female oppression and assault at its core.

Finally, I want to talk about the concept of Middle Eastern women being commodities not only for Middle Eastern men to consume, but for Western men to consume. Even in children’s films such as Aladdin, the main woman, Jasmine, is shown in clothing that is often associated with belly dancing. Belly dancing itself is largely considered sensual, centered around the movement of the hips. Its typical clothing involves a low-rise skirt and something to cover the chest, with flowing fabric that moves with the dancing. When Googling belly dancing in order to write this, I found YouTube videos with “sexy” and “hot” in the descriptions. I also found some Halloween costumes for children, which I don’t have much to say about as an intellectual point. Just thought it was weird.

What is up with this preoccupation with Middle Eastern people as either sexual objects or sexual aggressors? As to the sexual objects, I think it has something to do with how India and the Middle East were (and still are) viewed as commodities themselves. Colonialism views the world as full of things to be taken and owned. Often times, those things include people. White, straight men traveled around the world and took everything they possibly could. In a way, portraying these women as scantily-clad, sensual women that were regularly dominated by the men in their countries already made it seem as though they were asking for it. Asking to be dominated, abused, and owned by the white colonialists. For the men, I think it has something to do with similarly justifying the violence and ownership of themselves, their possessions, and their land. When we portray people as savages, less than human, it makes it that much easier to abuse their rights.

Check out this video by Lindsay Ellis if you’re interested in Orientalism and musical theatre; it’s a fascinating breakdown of one of the more obscure, yet fetishized characters from Phantom of the Opera.

GOST Helped Me Rediscover My Love of Writing (part 2)

As Mr. Heidkamp pointed out, I left a major part out my blog post “GOST Helped Me Rediscover My Love of Writing.” I mentioned that I was writing a story based on the writing style of of Roy. I chose to write a fiction peace that adopted the concepts of boundless perspective and grammar. I have attached a rough draft of the first few paragraphs of the first chapter below.

“When she arrived at the airport, she stood alone holding her leopard print duffel bag, in her crisscross-y, strap-y sandals. A man, who she wasn’t so comfortable with calling grandpa but did so anyway because of his being a father to her father, was on the way to pick her up. She felt out of place, standing in the terminal without a parent, because her duffle bag and crisscross-y sandals made her look and feel like a child, the opposite of how a girl of 14, who always said she was 15 wanted to look and feel.

The girl’s name was Margo, which she always thought it was such a stupid name. It sounded like her parents plucked it straight out of a Boxcar Children book. So she went by Belle, not because it was her middle name or the name of an aunt or something like that, but because she was sure that no one in her family, not even any great-great grandmas twice-removed had been named that. 

She didn’t know what her grandpa’s car looked like, but knowing him, she expected it to be something small and grey. And it was. Out of the car, after parking like a true old person, came Belle’s grandpa. He was slightly shorter than her, but probably had been much taller back when he was younger. He wore inch-thick, saucer-like glasses that seemed to float on his face like little halos. 

There was an awkward moment when neither went in for a hug and that reminded Belle that this man didn’t love her, which hurt a bit, but ultimately she was okay with that because she hated hugs anyway. Instead he pushed the corners of his lips up into a smile and she waved a hand. He insisted on putting her duffel bag into the trunk, but Belle did it herself because she could.”

Obviously this piece is a rough draft and only a fraction of the story, but I hope you are able to see some elements of Roy’s writing. Here is the link to the story so far, if you are interested.


I remember the day president Trump was elected. I obviously was born in the United States but more than two-thirds of my family live in France. The reason I’m talking about Trump’s election is that it was one of the more world-renowned elections ever to be held between two very strong candidates fighting against each other. When Trump was elected. my dad and mom truly contemplated what we were going to do about this guy in the office. Meanwhile half of our family in France was destroying our phone lines with the number of questions being asked about what we were going to do. I was so confused as to why they cared about the U.S.A. Election. I asked my dad being the nosey 15-year old I was and told me the best answer with only five words: “American News is World News.”

If you didn’t know what Orientalism was or didn’t understand it from what I just said Orientalism is a theory put forward by the late Edward Said. It is associated with the field of post-colonialism and the study of the cultures and identities of the Orient and Eastern civilizations by the West.

We as students live in a country that influences the world with its culture. Many different countries have big influence but America has the largest influence without even knowing. Some use this influence for good purposes and many just don’t know we have it.

God of Small Things

The God of Small Things is a cool story of one family in the town Ayemenem, Kerala, in India. The story follows Rahel and Estha as they come home to the funeral of their cousin Sophie Mol, and the text does a very good job of switching to moments of their past when things were simpler for them. You can understand the heaviness from the two through their language.

My favorite part of the book was probably at the beginning of chapter 12:

The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories, you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. That is their mystery and their magic (218)

The quote when reading almost seemed as if it solved a world-renowned mystery. and the lead up towards the quote allowed us to settle in and realize what the heck we were just hearing. I remember first seeing this quote having to read it two or three more times to fully understand what was there to be read. and its small things like this that The God of Small Things has truly mastered.

Orientalism in Modern Music

Orientalism in Western pop culture has always been very prevalent. In movies such as Aladdin, Mulan, and Indiana Jones, as well as several tv shows, other cultures are crudely and unfairly depicted. I believe with the rise in asian representation in movies in tv, however, this issue is finally starting to get better. One area of entertainment, on the other hand, seems to get away these Eastern interpretations with ease. This is the music industry.

Musicians like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, and several other pop stars unapologetically put out music and music videos that are full of orientalism. Take Katy Perry’s music video for “Dark Horse”. It is full of exaggerated asian and egyptian clothing and imagery. Nicki Minaj’s video for “Chun-Li” can’t even get past the title before it reveals its orientalism. Once you start actually watching the video, it’s just her talking in english with Chinese subtitles lazily plastered along the bottom of the screen. The only significance Chun Li has is that it was a character in the video game Street Fighter. I could keep naming these music videos (Post Malone’s “Rockstar,” Coldplay’s “Princess of China,” etc…)

There’s something about the music industry that has always seemed to have an immunity towards backlash. Only in very extreme cases of racism, sexism, or homophobia are artists ever called out on their behaviour. As we are starting to usher in a new era of tolerance in pop culture, I believe this issue needs to be addressed.

Celebrity GOST Commentary!

Yes, in parts of the world that value wit, compassion, and literary intelligence, my AP Lit teaching colleague Ms. Hunter is most definitely a celebrity. And I have been lucky enough to stumble on some bootleg videos of her walking her classes through her favorite moments in the second half of God of Small Things.

In all seriousness, Ms. Hunter’s insights are really eye-opening for me, and I really like how she always grounds them in a close reading of specific passages. I invite you to pull out your copy of the novel, gather your favorite passages and your own insights, and put them alongside hers in conversation. After watching her, if you have questions or responses, please put them in the comments below and I’ll make sure she sees them and has a chance to respond.

If she just sparks a pathway for you, though, use it as inspiration for an original post.

So first, enjoy Ms. Hunter’s analysis of a variety of moments in Chs. 9-18:

Side note: Did you have some video background envy? Who’s in that photo over there on the shelf? Has she really read all those books? I’ll bet she claims she didn’t even know what was behind her. Yeah, whatever …. I can’t even get my thumbnail image to look right (see below).

Anyway …. After finishing the novel, enjoy Ms. Hunter’s take on the momentous final chapters:

And if you haven’t yet gotten to the end of God of Small Things, and you are looking for some perspective on the early chapters, I’ve put together a compilation of Bernie’s Quick Takes — excerpted out of my messages of the days from the week before Spring Break.

And hey, no one is stopping you from doing your own video or audio take on the novel — or anything else. Just sayin’

A Present for Our Childhood

The God of Small Things is a magical book. Till the point I’ve read, I am extremely impressed by the vivid descriptions of little Estha and Rahel. Their thoughts and behaviors are simple and predictable that you can tell their age without any hint. I feel like the author put much efforts in inserting those details which make these two children alive in our head.

My favorite chapter is the one talking about their trip to the theater, besides the part which Estha got abused for sure. When I started reading these pages, I can’t stop laughing since I recall many interesting moments in my childhood. On page 91, it depicts the scene of Estha’s first solo peeing. Perhaps, because of we shared almost the same experience, I like Estha’s idea of stepping on something to pee into the higher one rather then the lower one. The author even talked about the habit of aiming the mothballs which were available in my primary school toilets. Another example is on page 95 where it’s said Rahel don’t have the weight to stabilize the fold chair. This was also something that happened to me long time ago. Just like what Rahel did, I’d choose to sit like a sandwich or use my arm to push the chair during the movie. There are tons of such funny moments scatter in the book. I deeply doubt about whether the author installed cameras at my home. Anyway, this is the book that I can say firmly is written in children’s view.

These little events are designed elaborately by the author to allow us recall those ancient memories, but not only that. It also shows us how pure the world is. How simple and beautiful the world can be through a child’s eyes comparing to the complex and messy we see. What’s the point of growing up and why we all become evil adults at the end are the questions this book bringing to me. All these small things consist of our memory. It might not be significant, but it may cause you feel a little bit amused and that may be the meaning of memory.