My two year anniversary of living and I mean LIVING in Korea is fast approaching. Being here has been a roller coaster of experiences and emotions. Of course, as a black female in Asia, life comes with its own challenges. Some of these challenges are known to us before we arrive: people fascinated with your hair, people touching your skin, some staring at you as if you were less than, some rejecting you because of your appearance; while at the same time you're treated like a rock star.

One of the challenges that has become all too real, but is rarely spoken about is being stalked. Since I've been living here in Korea, many of my black female friends and associates have been stalked, sometimes to the point of them having to leave their apartments and relocate, seek police protection, and in some cases arm themselves.


Can I ask y'all somethin'?

As y'all know, Johnny Kemp has died at the tender age of 55...may he rest in power; dying at 55 is some bullshit.  He didn't even look 55 when he died.

But like many folks I'm watching his 1988 hit "Just Got Paid" right now, and unlike most folks I'm wondering...who is this dude who shows around the 59th second???  He is fly, y'all!!!

It's like they knew they needed to give him his own scene...just 'cause.

Check out his dancing:


Blasian Romance in Mortal Kombat X (#AMBW)

...I shit you not.

No need waiting for October (Blasian Assassins' Month); Mortal Kombat X - despite its various problems - surprises with an AMBW romance subplot that I did not see coming.  The 10th game in the franchise introduces a host of new characters, and among the newbs are Jacqueline "Jacqui" Briggs and Takeda Takahashi.

From the Mortal Kombat Wiki:
Jacqueline Sonya "Jacqui" Briggs is a character in the Mortal Kombat Universe, who made her debut in the Mortal Kombat X comic series.

Jacqui is a slender woman with brown eyes, shoulder length brown hair which she keeps in cornrows and small ponytail. Her civilian attire as depicted in the comic consist of a white t-shirt with black pants or purple shorts.

In the game proper, Jacqui wears full military camouflage under standard body armor with the Special Forces insignia on it, and a utility belt around her waist. Knee pads line her knees and she wears mechanical powered gauntlets on both her arms, reminiscent of her father's mechanical arms.


Seoul Fashion Week

I had the chance to go to Seoul Fashion Week a couple of weeks ago at the Dongdaemun Fashion Plaza and it was pretty cool. Unlike other Fashion Weeks like those in London, Paris, Milan, and New York, Seoul Fashion is still on a smaller scale. Anyone can gain access to the areas where the fashion shows are taking place; its not roped off so you too can become paparazzi/press for a day.  After fervently emailing designers I was able to get tickets to a couple shows including designing couple JKOO and Choi Boko. Many famous KDrama actors including Kim Woobin and Lee Jongsuk, got their start as models at Seoul Fashion Week.
One of the more exclusive and talked about shows was Seo Byung Mun. This show featured Sam Okyere, which was not a surprise because of his increasing popularity. As far as style and aesthetic, Korean designers design for Koreans mostly. Most of what I saw on the runway could be found in the underground malls across the country. Ready-to-wear dominates Korean fashion: long trench coats and pea coats, baby doll skirts, and bowler hats dominated the scene. Overall I enjoyed the experience of being there and I look forward to the Fall for the next Fashion Week event.



The Expat Diaries: Thailand

I was in Thailand recently for work and for play.  Bangkok, with a population about six million, is a hectic, frenetic metropolis.  Anytime I left my hotel, there were hundreds of people out and about, walking, driving, riding scooters and motorcycles, taking the MTR, hustling wares, doing all kinds of things.  They were not shocked to see my brown face, as many PoC live and work in Bangkok. 


Keeping the Conversation Going on White Fragility

Think about it like this: from the time I opened my eyes, I have been told that as a white person, I am superior to people of color. There’s never been a space in which I have not been receiving that message. From what hospital I was allowed to be born in, to how my mother was treated by the staff, to who owned the hospital, to who cleaned the rooms and took out the garbage. We are born into a racial hierarchy, and every interaction with media and culture confirms it—our sense that, at a fundamental level, we are superior.

And, the thing is, it feels good. Even though it contradicts our most basic principles and values. So we know it, but we can never admit it. It creates this kind of dangerous internal stew that gets enacted externally in our interactions with people of color, and is crazy-making for people of color. We have set the world up to preserve that internal sense of superiority and also resist challenges to it. All while denying that anything is going on and insisting that race is meaningless to us.

...If people of color went around showing the pain they feel in every moment that they feel it, they could be killed. It is dangerous. They cannot always share their outrage about the injustice of racism. White people can’t tolerate it. And we punish it severely—from job loss, to violence, to murder.

I want to expand on this a little by asking people to imagine a little scenario right quick: imagine being white a person in a world where white privilege no longer exists.  Imagine being in a white body with Absolutely No Perks Whatsoever to being white.

Somewhere, a white person's heart briefly stopped while reading that sentence.  They will soon experience a series of mini-strokes.


Ranier M: My People

Someone has been on fire lately.
Dear White Folks,

It doesn't matter if we're chatting by the office water cooler or I'm shopping for asparagus at the grocery store, you guys ALWAYS find an excuse to ask me about my ethnicity.

"Where are you from?"
"How cool! My brother is dating a Filipina chick!"
"Do you know any good Filipino restaurants?"

I used to answer these question (reluctantly) but you know what? FUCK IT, I refuse to talk about my culture with white people AT ALL. I am never going to tell you about my race, where my people come from, nor will I entertain you with my knowledge of Asian recipes which you could easily Google, you lazy fuck.

Why? Because whenever I wanna talk about race in America, and how my people (yes, Black, Latino, and Native Americans are MY people, too) you wanna bitch and complain about us pulling the race card. You wanna hear ALL about my country and my advice on great local Asian restaurants but can't give two fucking SHITS about my dead brothers and sisters who are constantly brutalized and killed by YOUR people.

My culture is not a topic of interest because you say so. My experiences are not valid because you asked. I am NOT here to entertain you with kabuki and I sure as hell don't wanna tell you what Asian I am.

You wanna know about my culture? Then open your eyes and realize that all of us POCs are doing exactly that: with Twitter rants about Sean Penn, protests against SAE, and posts about ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬.

THIS is my culture. THESE are my people. THESE are our problems. If you don't wanna hear us, if you don't wanna see our race card, then fuck off, cause I don't want to tell you anyways.


Fresh Off The Boat: "Shaq Fu/Fajita Man", "Showdown at the Golden Saddle", & "Philip Goldstein" Review (Ep.6-8)

No excuses, I hope this picture softens the blow.

No? Reviews below. Spoilers ahead maybe.

Shaq Fu/Fajita Man (Episode 6):
"As Jessica searches for a job for herself, Eddie starts working at the Cattleman's Ranch to get enough money for a video game he wants."
First, thank you online sites for making it confusing to understand whether this episode is called Shaq Fu or Fajita Man (please don't ask me to pronounce Fajita). And second, I should not do reviews in 3's. Oh well.
This episode details the moral of working for what you want, in this case Shaq Fu the video game. This plot details Eddie having to work to afford the game with his father, Louis trying to show the value of hard work as his father did. Its an interesting point that divulges into why Louis works so hard and the father-son dynamic between the two. Great way to build upon the existing relationship so far.

Also, Jessica is job hunting and utilizes her "strong" composure in becoming a real estate agent which explains what she does now while the kids are in school and while Louis is at the restaurant.

Kudos for the character development and some contributions from the grandma and the siblings whose names I cannot remember.
Showdown at the Golden Saddle (Episode 7):
"Jessica finds out the truth about the Cattleman's Ranch and Golden Saddle, while Eddie tries his best to catch Nicole's attention."
This episode gives even more backstory to Cattleman's Ranch. It ends up being a knock-off of The Golden Saddle, a local franchise that has many identical similarities. This also develops and showcases the relationship between Jessica and Louis (even showcasing their nicknames Scarface and Miller's Crossing, not identifying who's who). This was great to showcase their marriage as well as their chemistry onscreen making the viewing experience that much more pleasing. Plus the explanation for the billboard placement is surprisingly hilarious and practical.

The other half of the episode displayed Eddie trying to win the heart (or attention) of his neighbor, Nicole. Long story short, he finally gets to her through an Ice Cube album. I am curious to see how her character develops because it seems to hint that she has a less than stellar background which would add even more depth to an already great show. Like a broken record, great writing, greater delivery, and just a show that deserves a season 2 in the works if it hasn't already.
Philip Goldstein (Episode 8):
"A Chinese-Jewish boy, Philip Goldstein, is the new student at Eddie's school and they are paired up in all activities because of their race, even though Eddie does not like Philip. Jessica immediately likes Philip because he plays the cello and is a "good Chinese boy". Philip and Eddie make a deal that if Eddie takes Philip to see "Les Misérables" Philip will go along with Eddie to the Beastie Boys concert. Eventually Philip abandons Eddie and Eddie has to miss the concert looking for Philip. Jessica ends up taking Eddie to the concert the next day, and does not like it."
Shoutout to Wikipedia for the long description. Fitting in at a new school and finding your group is a univeral experience regardless of age, gender, race, etc. This episode was very fitting of that. To be honest, this is one of those episodes that technically works but I didn't completely enjoy. Mind you, Philip plays a great opposite to Eddie's character but I'm generally not a fan of these kind of characters in general (I work around kids and I hate annoying kids lovingly). It does drag a bit but it does show a reality that is assumed that because two people share the same ethnic makeup, they must have the same interests and values.

The writing and delivery is on par as usual. There is however a lackluster subplot of Mitch being rehired after the events of the last episode. No blame on the cast but rather its felt that the writers prioritized Eddie and Philip's dynamic first. The upside is that finally Eddie and Walter (the school's black kid) finally link up and become friends after bonding as "An Asian kid and a black kid bonding over music by white Jewish rappers."
If you haven't, get on this show now. 

Fresh Off The Boat (New Episodes Every Tuesday 8/7 on ABC)
Official Website: http://abc.go.com/shows/fresh-off-the-boatFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/FreshOffTheBoatABC
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FreshOffABC @FreshOffABC #freshofftheboat

Review by: Christopher "Chrispy AKA Kon" Phiouthong
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Lost in Translation?

On Saturday February 28th Daegu hosted a Black History Festival for the second time. This year Sam Okyere was the special guest host. Sam is very famous and appears in commercials and t he very popular show  "Abnormal Summit". There was a lot of anticipation surrounding his appearance from Koreans and foreigners alike. With a big name on the flyer, this year's festival would prove to be bigger and better. Unfortunately, it proved to be quite disappointing for me. I understand the time and energy it takes to put on an event of this size, so I know things will not always be perfect. However, it did seem as though the organizers underestimated Sam's fame and disregarded us, the audience. Sam Okyere, as expected, brought Koreans to the festival in huge numbers. Yet, that's all Koreans seemed to get out of it. The festival was a great opportunity to share Black culture with what many call a "homogeneous and xenophobic" society. However, it turned into a circus. It was no longer about Black History, it was about Sam! At one point he tried to make his way to the back tents where hoodies were being sold and programs were being handed out when he was swarmed by Koreans grabbing and pulling at him. A couple friends and myself had to peel people off of him and escort him back to the stage safely. It was chaotic.

Then, there were too many performances and the show dragged on longer than it needed to. There were random raffles, dance contests, and unfunny banter. By the time the performances started to heat up, the weather had grown cold and people were more concerned about getting pictures of Sam than learning about anything Black. Don't get me wrong I really liked that the programs containing a timeline of Black artistry was great. Also, many of the performances were awesome as well. The worship dance, reggae performance, and incredible operatic rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" comparable to Marian Anderson, were absolutely breathtaking, but they took too long to get to. Koreans were part of the show too. They beatboxed, danced hip hop, popped and locked, and rapped sometimes making it seem like they could do "Black" better than  Black people. The next Monday, I asked my students who attended the festival what they thought and what they had learned and they said "Sam is so tall" "Sam is handsome"...Sam Sam Sam Sam...Le sigh

Last year, I left the festival wanting more, this year I just wanted it to end. Well, here's to next year. Is it enough to have a festival and let our presence be known if its not executed in the best way?