Stereotypes highlighted, ridiculed in ‘True Colors’

Nicole Magno (left) coordinated the discussion about racism against Asian-Americans during the ‘True Colors’ event on Nov. 17. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

By Jaimie Cohen
Correspondent

Students had the chance to debate and learn about racism against Asian-Americans in “True Colors,” a round table discussion held on Wednesday Nov. 17 in Cromwell Main Lounge.

The event attempted to raise awareness of the stereotypes and hoped to put an end to such conformity.

Calvin Woo, junior mathematics major, expressed his concern about such stereotypes.

“One that really gets me going is the one that all Asians are good at math,” Woo said. “No. When individual abilities are shadowed by a racial expectation, it’s disconcerting and not a reflection of our individual abilities.”

Stereotypes, Woo explained, are embedded within everyone, but it is up to people to choose to acknowledge or disregard them.

Nicole Magno, junior English education major, and coordinator of the event discussed her school experience and said there seemed to be a lack of Asian-American representation, with a dominant European perspective taught in history classes.

“I still have to ask, ‘Where is my Asian-American literature class? Isn’t it important enough to study?’ ” Magno said.

In the media, “whitewashing” and “yellow face” are common racist acts that have exploited Asian-Americans. “Yellow face” involves the use of cosmetics to make a non-Asian appear Asian.

“Whitewashing involves adapting works of originally ethnic origins to suit the perceived majority preference for caucasian leads,” Magno said.

Magno referenced the movie “21” which was originally a story of an unsuspecting Asian group who took over a casino. However, when casting, the producer adapted the story to fit Caucasian leads, Magno said.

She also noted that even when Asians are cast they are expected to fill stereotypical parts. During the round table discussion, participants talked about directors often casting Chinese-Americans for stereotypical roles and prompting them to include an accent while speaking even though many of these actors speak perfect English.

Students attending this event participated in a three round discussion focusing on subtle forms of racism toward Asian-Americans in the media.

Round one had participants discuss individual racism, while round two moved on to the discussion of institutional racism. Round three brought the discussion to a close with Asian-Americans in the media.