Monday, December 25, 2006

The Face of Tomorrow

As we enter a new year, many of us must be wondering what the future will be like. As someone who has a habit of viewing things through a racial lens, I'm wondering about the possible ethnicities people might have in the future--and what these people might look like. With anti-miscegenation laws broken down and continuing immigration (not just in America, but around the world), mixed-race people are becoming more common and the world is beginning to see human faces that almost didn't exist a century ago. But what will happen a century from now?

Today, there are an increasing number of people who are half one ethnicity, and half another ethnicity; if you go to places like Hawaii, you'll encounter people whose ancestry is even more complicated (and you can usually tell by the way they look). If you ask a young person what his or her ethnicity is, don't always expect a one-word answer.

So without getting into genetics or biology, what will people look like in the 22nd or 23rd century? We can almost be certain that they won't look like anyone who has ever lived. Faces of the future will embody the mixing of races that is continually becoming more common today. They probably won't look like any ethnic appearance that has ever existed. This has happened before. Many Latino/Hispanic people are generations and generations of mixed Native American and Spanish ancestry, and as a result, many of them look multiracial (on a related note, people who are half-Asian and half-European are commonly mistaken to be Mexican). Do you think there were people who looked like modern-day Latinos before the Spanish arrived there?

The mixed-looking appearance of many Latino people is a result of colonial mixing hundreds of years ago, and we have to wonder: what kind of facial features will today's racial mixing bring about hundreds of years from now? In today's multiracial people, we can see the faces of tomorrow. But a photographer named Mike Mike is taking a different approach.

The curiously-named Mike Mike is from Istanbul, a city that's historically considered to be in both Europe and Asia, and sure enough, many of the residents there look mixed-race. This is probably what inspired him to do a photography project called The Face of Tomorrow.

Mike is going to several cities around the world, and in each city, he takes pictures of 100 random people, and then combines all of them (using computer graphics) to make 2 faces: one male, and one female. The idea is that these 2 faces will be what a person in each city will look like a century from now, and that a city's population represents its racial (and facial) future. From the website:

"The large metropolises of the world are magnets for migrants from all parts of the planet resulting in new mixtures of peoples. What might a typical inhabitant of this new metropolis look like in one or two hundred years if they were to become more integrated? [...] if you could combine all the faces in a city right now you would be looking at the future face of that city."

Here are a few faces that've been done already:

Rio de Janeiro

Hong Kong



The Sydney face was done with people at Sydney University, so not surprisingly, it looks more mixed-race than the others (in my opinion) since colleges tend to be diverse. The London face, which looks very European, surprised me because my brother went there and he tells me it's very diverse. (Mike explains on the website that the London face isn't very accurate because the photos he took for it happened to be in a very White part of the city).

The Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro faces, as well as most of the other ones done so far, look more like a general appearance of a modern-day resident in each city, instead of a future mixed-race person, because a lot of those cities aren't really melting pots or salad bowls. But what if The Face of Tomorrow was done in North American cities? I would love to see what this project yields in super-diverse places like New York, Toronto, or San Francisco; those cities are just begging to be included (or at least, I'm begging that they be included).

It's probably impossible to know for sure what people's faces will look like hundreds of years from now. With the mixing of so many ethnicities, it's possible that everyone will eventually look like the same race--the human race. With a new year upon us, we're one step closer to seeing these faces...whatever they will look like.


Monday, December 18, 2006

"Kim" isn't always Korean

By now you've probably heard about a family that was stranded in the snow in Oregon earlier this month. When James Kim, his wife, and their daughters went missing a few weeks ago, the story made international news, probably because Kim was well-known within the technology community; he was an editor for CNET and also worked for TechTV.

When I noticed that this story made news around the world, I couldn't help but wonder about what people thought about James Kim's ethnicity. I've never seen news reports that mentioned he was Korean-American, and that's a good thing, because mentioning race would be inappropriate here. However, when people outside of America heard about this, they probably assumed it was a White family who were lost (because most Americans are White). If they saw James Kim's picture, they probably assumed it was an Asian family who were lost.

Actually, it wasn't a White OR an Asian family that was was both! No, there weren't two families, it was just one. You're probably confused right now--unless you're aware of miscegenation. James Kim was Korean (ethnically) but his wife was White. That's her in the picture above with one of their children. My point is, I'm glad the media didn't say anything about ethnicity when covering this story, but it disturbs me a little that some people would assume this family is full-Asian just because they saw James Kim's picture, or assume this family is full-White just from seeing his wife's picture.


Monday, December 11, 2006

"Hello my race is..."

I was at this seminar last summer and when everyone was introducing themselves, I realized that we usually don't tell people our ethnicity when we meet them. What do we tell people when we introduce ourselves? In most situations, we tell people our:

1. Name
2. Age
3. Job/occupation
4. Where we're from

Sometimes we tell people about our family (i.e. "I have a wife and 2 kids" etc) or about our education (i.e. "I have a Ph.D in..." etc). But we almost never tell people about our ethnicity (i.e. "On my mom's side, I'm half..." etc). Unless we're meeting people in a culture-related setting, the topic of race is almost always avoided. Don't get me wrong, I guess that's a good thing.

This seminar I went to was pretty ethnically diverse. We were introducing ourselves one by one in front of the audience and I was imagining what would happen if someone mentioned their ethnicity in their introduction. If someone did, the worst that could happen would probably be a quiet awkwardness in the crowd. It would definetely be awkward, but why? For some reason, it's more awkward than saying your age, job, or hometown.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Back after 3 months

wow I haven't written anything here since September. It's because I was busy at university. Anyways, I'm on Christmas break now and hopefully I can post more.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Racism from a non-racist attack

This week, there was a school shooting in Canada (Montreal) and the shooter was a 25-year-old Canadian man. Hold on...what image did you get when I said "Canadian man"? Did you imagine a White guy? Most likely you did, because many people assume "Canadian = White".

The Dawson College killer was Kimveer Gill, which is a name that could be interpreted as mixed-race because it sounds ethnically unclear. Shortly after the shooting, a witness was being interviewed and he was asked what race the shooter was. He shrugged and said "White"...he said it as if it didn't matter what race the killer was.

It turns out Gill's heritage is Indian (from India) and he was born in Canada. He posted some pictures of himself on the Internet (which have since been taken down), and he does look somewhat mixed-race. However, he is technically Asian (because India's in Asia), one witness said he was White, and on one of his photos, someone made a comment calling him a Middle Eastern terrorist.

So...a witness thought he was White, an angry person on the Internet thought he's Arabic, but in reality, he's Asian. The shooting is believed to be random violence, and not a racist or terrorist attack. Yet when people see what he looks like or learn what his ethnicity is, some of them immediately make racist comments. Some of them start thinking it WAS racist or terrorist, even when the attack itself wasn't.

All of this shows that people usually assume that individual humans can only belong to one race. The witness who said that he was White, was responding to a question of whether Gill was "White, Black, (or) Asian". White, Black, Asian? You mean there's no in-between? Of course there is! Now, let's say Kimveer Gill WAS mixed-race instead of only Indian. Let's say he was White, Black, AND Asian (yes, that's genetically possible). Would there still be racist comments towards him? There definitely would be, but what?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tom Cruise might be Asian

When I saw pictures of Tom Cruise's new-born daughter, Suri Cruise, the first thing I noticed was how Asian she looks. That's remarkable if you consider that neither of her parents are known to be Asian, and I'm not the only who thinks Suri Cruise looks Asian, as you can see from this news website in China:


Since she's the daughter of well-known Hollywood stars, it's likely that she will become famous herself. And it certainly looks like it, since she's only 4 months old and she's already on the cover of Vanity Fair and even has a whole issue about her. Whether or not she does become famous, maybe she will make people think twice about what it means to be "White" as well as what race and ethnicity mean.

People who haven't seen pictures of Suri would assume that she's just another White baby, and what kind of image does "White baby" create in people's minds? Certainly nothing that looks like Suri Cruise. As you can see on comment #13 on this page about Suri, which says:

Now I understand completely why her name is Suri. It's short for surrogate. Suri is part Asian and there is no doubt about it. Check out those eyes and head of hair. Not a Caucasian baby you can't fool me.

"Not a Caucasian baby"?? "There's no doubt about it"??!! Then what does a Caucasian baby LOOK LIKE!? Obviously, whoever wrote that comment has some stereotypical image of White people in their head.

Now a part of me wants Suri Cruise to grow up and become very famous, so that her Asian features will be in the minds of every American some day. And the fact that people will know she's the daughter of Tom Cruise (who looks White) will hopefully make people think more about race and ethnicity; make people think more about the diversity of White people.

It's rare people like Suri Cruise, who isn't mixed-race (ostensibly) but still looks like a different race than her parents, who will hopefully make people think twice about what race looks like. Hopefully she will become so famous that she destroys the stereotype that White people can't look Asian. And at 4 months old, it looks like she's already started.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Muslims are not a race

In honor of the 5th anniversary of 9/11, the San Francisco Chronicle has a story about how Muslims are victims of racial stereotypes, even though Islam is a religion and not a race.

Middle Eastern people aren't the only ones suffering this kind of racism. Like the article says:

A new racial stereotype is emerging in America. Brown-skinned men with beards and women with head scarves are seen as "Muslims" -- regardless of their actual faith or nationality.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Mixed-race people won't "survive"

The new season of Survivor is going to divide the contestants by race. There's going to be 4 groups: White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian. Obviously this isn't very nice to people who belong to more than one race. They could have AT LEAST had one group of mixed-race individuals. What were they thinking?? People around the world are going to see this and then they'll think that mixed-race is impossible. And yes, there are people in the world--even in the United States--who have never heard of mixed-race.

Oh and what happens at the end of this season of Survivor? Whichever racial group wins, it's going to support some stereotype. If the White group wins, the Neo-Nazis, KKK, and all those supremacy groups will be all over it. If the Black group wins, people are going to talk about how they're good at athletics. Or if the Asian groups wins, someone might say something about the Japanese in World War II.

Whoever wins, their race will somehow be associated with their victory. And mixed-race people will be completely ignored.

Friday, September 01, 2006

"Asian" girl (part 2)

This is related to a previous post I made.

I saw this picture on a stock photos archive, and the caption said "Young Hispanic girl doing homework on the floor." But if you look at the tags below, you'll see the words "Asian ethnicity." Apparently someone couldn't decide whether this girl is Hispanic/Latino or they put both.

(Click on the picture to see what I'm talking about)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Would half-White people live?

This week is the 175th anniversary of Nat Turner's slave rebellion. Turner was a Black slave in Virginia, USA in the early 19th century who organized an uprising against White slaveowners. During the rebellion, he told his followers to kill all White people. And indeed, they travelled all over town; freeing slaves while killing White people--not only the slaveowners, but they murdered women and children as well.

How did they determine if someone was White? Obviously they just looked at them and then thought "Black or White?" before killing them or not killing them. This would be much harder today because not everyone looks completely Black or completely White. (What if Nat Turner encountered a Latino, Asian, or mixed-race person?).

What's also interesting is that during the rebellion, Turner encountered a White slaveowner who was protected by his slaves. His slaves thought of him as being a good master, and they were actually willing to fight Turner and his men.

What's even more interesting is that one of the White people in town was a childhood friend of Nat Turner, and he (Turner) told his men to spare the guy's family. But wait, I thought he said "kill all White people"? hmm...I guess that White guy was lucky that he knew Turner personally, huh?

One of the victims was a White woman who was known to be a kind person to Black slaves. So why did they kill her? hmm...maybe because Turner never had the opportunity to meet her. C'mon race obviously has nothing to do with your personality!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Macaca" doesn't sound like "mohawk"

A 20-year-old Indian-American named S.R. Sidarth was videotaping Senator George Allen (Virginia) making a speech, when suddenly, the Senator singled him out of the crowd and called him "Macaca." "Macaca" is the French-African equivalent of the "N-word." (wow And this Senator might run for President in 2008!)

You can see it happen by clicking the picture below.

George Allen denies he meant "Macaca" as an insult. He says it was a nickname that his staff members gave to the 20-year-old Sidarth, and that they gave it to him because of his apparently mohawk-like hair. Allen's communications director said they nicknamed him "Mohawk," and the word probably transformed into "Macaca."

"Mohawk" and "Macaca" sound too different from each other, so I don't think it was an accident. And George Allen's mother immigrated from the same region in Africa where the word "Macaca" is used as a racial slur, so I think it's unlikely he consciously used it as an insult. What could've happened (it's just my opinion) was, someone among George Allen's staff called Sidarth "Macaca" on purpose as a racial slur, and then the other staff members started calling him that (without knowing that it's a slur). And pretty soon, the Senator himself started using the slur (also without knowing it).

Sidarth is visibly dark-skinned and he could likely be mistaken for an African-American (picture above), so that makes it even more likely that someone called him "Macaca" on purpose as a racist insult. Not to mention that this happened in Virginia, where Blacks are the largest minority group.

Not only does the Senator call him "Macaca," but he also tells him "welcome to America." (You can see it in the video). You can say he's not being racist because he said welcome to America, but Sidarth was born and raised in Virginia! Either the Senator assumed he just came to the US or someone assumed it and then told him. If it was the latter, then I'd like to see him try to become the next US president.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Multi-angle Phenomenon

This week's topic is familiar to many mixed-race people. Have you ever glanced at someone, and then when you saw them again...they looked like a different race from when you first saw them? I'm talking about how a person's racial appearance can change depending on the distance, lighting, and angle from which you're looking at them. This works better in real life than in pictures, but I'll try to illustrate.

What ethnicity does this woman look like?

To me, she looks Latina or southern European (she looks Italian or some kind of Mediterranean ethnic group in my opinion).

Ok, how about the woman below? What ethnicity?

Asian? Most people would say she looks Asian (maybe Chinese or Japanese).

What's interesting's the same woman in both pictures!

Let's do a guy now.
The man below (on the left) looks like what ethnicity?

Most people would say he's Black.

And the guy below?

Yes, it's the same guy in both pictures. In the 2nd photo, I think he could pass for Filipino, or maybe a Latino with strong American Indian blood.

"So what's the point?" you're probably asking. My point is, people will not always look like their ethnicity. The woman above is Tammy Duckworth, who is currently running for congress in Illinois, USA. She is half Thai and half White. The guy above is Will Demps, who is a football player for the NFL (New York Giants). He is half Korean and half Black.

Did you notice how their races changed? (In my opinion at least). They're the same two people, but their ethnicities changed because of the lighting and camera angle. This could cost them their lives if they looked like a certain race at the wrong time.

What if Will Demps was in a dark room and then he encountered a racist Filipino who's killing Black people? Do you think the killer's gonna go "hmm...I don't know"?

Or what if that same racist Filipino person saw Will Demps in bright sunlight? Let's just say, Demps would look more Black in a dark room.

This isn't just a case of "what if." This has happened. After 9/11, Middle Eastern people weren't the only ones who experienced racism, but also "dark-skinned Latinos with goatees." In many cases, these Latinos were mistaken to be Arab and then were attacked based on that. I guess the angle and lighting made them look more Arab at the time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jim Crow in Japan

For a country where one ethnicity makes up over 99% of the population, it's understandable why racism isn't a such a big deal. But when I saw these signs, which are common in modern-day Japan, I couldn't help but feel shocked.

This kind of thing is accepted?! One of the most industrialized and developed countries in the world is actually fine with racial discrimination!? Don't they realize that there will ALWAYS be some sort of gray area about who is Japanese and who isn't? Not to mention, this kind of thing could damage foreign relations with other countries. And not everyone is going to be either 0% Japanese or 100% Japanese. Not only am I talking about mixed-race people, but also Japanese citizens who aren't ethnically Japanese.

The website where I got the pictures above from belongs to a Japanese citizen who isn't Japanese by blood. At one point, he tried entering a club that said "Japanese only," but they wouldn't let him in--even after he showed them his Japanese passport. Obviously, those "Japanese only" signs are referring to race and ethnicity rather than nationality.

It makes me wonder how they react to part-Japanese people. Most likely they would consider them to be non-Japanese.

Most people would agree that racism is outdated, but in no way is it gone. Even in the racially diverse United States, where Jim Crow laws for segregation no longer exist, ethnic bigotry lives on quietly among the few hate groups that still exist. Japan is an even more fertile ground for racism because it's not diverse. Even if Japan is one the most successful economies in the world, and one of the most advanced countries on Earth, its race relations are anything but successful and advanced.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Road rage and racism

I'm sure you all know what road rage is. It's when you get mad when someone cuts you off, or just when you generally get angry while you're driving. This anger sometimes leads to insults towards other drivers, and what better way to insult someone than by using racism. You might even be guilty of it. Have you ever been annoyed by a car in front of you, and as you drove past it, you looked at the driver's face? And by doing so, you probably noticed what race they were, and your first instinct in all your anger might've been to insult them based on their ethnicity.

Obviously there's always going to be a case of mistaken identity in situations like this. While you're driving, someone might yell at you and call you a "terrorist" thinking that you're Middle Eastern, when you might actually be Latino. Like I've mentioned here and here, a case of mistaken racial identity can always potentially determine if you're murdered or not; because someone could kill you after they mistake you for an ethnicity that they hate.

One real-life example of this is 25-year-old Thanh Lam, who was a victim of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Lam was murdered in his truck when he was stopped at red light, and someone pulled up next to him and fired. His killer was reported to have yelled a racial slur at him before shooting. His killer was also reported to have been African-American. During the riots, there were tensions between Blacks and Koreans. So it is very likely that Lam was killed because he was mistaken for Korean. Lam was Vietnamese.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Black doctors or death?

This is an interesting picture. It shows African-Americans doctors operating on a Ku Klux Klan member!

For those who don't see the irony in this photo...a White supremacist (who hates Black people and usually wants to kill them too) is being saved by Black people!

How awkward would it be if you were an African-American paramedic and then you had to treat a clansman? This is just so tragic and funny, I don't know where to start. If the doctors failed and the clansman died, how would the KKK community react?? If you were the clansman (not that I want you to be) would you rather die than be saved by Black doctors? Or do you think something this traumatic would make you put aside your racist ways--permanently?

This picture is a perfect example of how absurd racism can be. Whether it's a real picture or not doesn't matter. Something like this could always happen in real life; someone dedicates their life to hating a group of people, and then their life ends up being SAVED by that same group of people! It's just sad that some racist people in this situation will continue being hateful; even the threat of death might not be enough to make supremacists renounce their bigotry. What if the clansman in the picture was saved? Would he commit suicide later, because his life from this point on was made possible by African-Americans? I hope he would at least thank the doctors.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Does this girl look Asian?

I was browsing around on Flickr when I saw these pictures, and I noticed one of the tags the photographer put on these pictures was "Asian". Meaning: the photographer is saying "this girl is Asian."

But I thought to myself, "this girl doesn't look Asian."

Maybe this girl is mixed Asian with another ethnicity, but the other tags don't indicate that. It only says "Asian." Maybe the photographer knows this little girl and her ethnic background? Or maybe he or she didn't know the girl and just guessed? Why did the photographer tag these pictures "Asian"? If he/she didn't know her, did she really look Asian? I'm not saying: "this girl is definetely not Asian", I'm saying, she doesn't LOOK Asian TO ME. To me, she looks more Latina or South American, so it surprised me when I saw she was tagged as "Asian." If she's only part Asian, why isn't the rest of her heritage tagged?

Ok, you're probably wondering, "what's the big deal?" "does it matter what her race is?"

Unless I am completely wrong and this girl happens to be full-blooded Asian, this girl is either part Asian and part another race...or she isn't Asian at all. If she is part Asian, did the photographer know that? If he did, why didn't he/she tag the rest of her heritage? If not, why was she tagged "Asian"? If she isn't Asian at all, then the photographer was probably just guessing her race, but does she really look Asian?

My point is two things:

1. People have different perspectives of what an ethnicity looks like; I'm not saying the photographer was wrong and I'm right. I'm saying, if he/she was guessing her ethnicity, then it shows that people have different visual perceptions of a racial group.

2. Multiracial people are usually lumped into just 1 category. If this girl is mixed-race, then why weren't all of her ethnicities tagged? If she's Asian and another race, why is "Asian" the only one that's mentioned?

Many people are unaware that a human being can belong to more than one race. We aren't all just White, or just Black, or just Asian, just Latino, etc.

I know all of this is just random, harmless pictures on the Internet, but what if it were something worse? What if, instead of a photographer matching a race to someone's picture, it was a White supremacist matching a race to a potential victim? I might sound like I'm exaggerating, but we can't escape the reality that hate crimes still exist. Like I mentioned 3 days ago, this seemingly harmless process of guessing someone's ethnicity can potentially determine if you are murdered or not.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Americans" are NOT White!

"American" does NOT mean "White person"

Have you noticed when people talk about Americans, they're usually thinking of White people? This is an insult to people in the USA who are NOT European. I noticed a lot of people ouside of America use the word "American" is if it's an ethnicity. As in: "are you half American?" or "are you full-blooded American?" or "I'm 1/8 American!"

Can people PLEASE realize that there is no such thing as "American blood" and that Americans can be from ANY race, because "American" is not an ethnicity!

I notice many people think this way:

1. African-Americans are "Black"
2. Asian-Americans are "Asian"
3. Latino-Americans are "Mexican"
4. Native Americans are "Indian"


Euro-Americans (White people) are "American"

C'mon, I mean, a man who just came here from Europe last month will "look more American" than a woman who's a 3rd or 4th generation Japanese-American. Why? Because he's White and since most people think: "American = White", the American of Japanese descent will look like a foreigner to most people, even though her family has been in the United States for a century!

I wish people would realize that nobody "looks" American, because Americans don't HAVE a "look". We're diverse. We're not all White. You can't tell if someone is American just by looking at them.

And American people who are mixed-race? Don't get me started!

Monday, July 17, 2006

She's probably not "immune"

About 2 months ago was the 79th annual National Spelling Bee and I was browsing through YouTube videos, and there was this one video that showed these people watching the spelling bee on TV. In this video, they're watching the very end of the spelling bee where it's only 2 contestants left. One of these contestants was a girl named Finola Hackett, who is half White (Canadian) and half Chinese.

Anyways, in this video, one of the people who was watching made a comment about the Asian kids in the spelling bee. The first thing I thought when I heard this comment was "what about Finola?"

Finola is half Asian, but I am PRETTY sure that the guy who made that comment about Asians wasn't referring to her. Not just that, but earlier in the video, that same guy was cheering her on. But when some of the FULL-Asian kids showed up on the screen, he automatically saw that they're Asian and commented about it.

What made me sad was that all of this made Finola seem "immune" to racism, because her presence onscreen didn't trigger any racial comments, but the presence of full-Asian kids DID trigger them.

This goes to show you how the average person thinks of race; they assume everyone is full-blooded (and that multiracial is somehow impossible). Of course, Finola could always be mistaken for something she's not, and then get insulted for that. But in that YouTube video, she was immune to some ignorant guy's comment against Asians, even though she IS Asian.

What if this were more serious than a few comments? Like a hate crime? This kind of thing can potentially decide if you are murdered or not.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I suppose I should introduce myself here. But I think I'd rather introduce the blog.

So...with this blog, I plan to write out random observations I have about race, ethnicity, and other related issues. If you're wondering about the title, Race Shall Slur, it's a play on words (obviously) and I'm using the word "slur" to mean "become unclear" or "become indistinct" rather than "to insult". And what "race shall slur" means, is that the concept of racial identity will become more complicated (and slurred) in the future. This is already happening through the growing presence of people who belong to 2 or more ethnicities.

One reason I started this blog is because I am TIRED of people assuming that all human beings belong to only one ethnicity. Whenever you hear people talking about race, it's almost always under the assumption that nobody is multiracial, and that everybody only has one ethnicity in their heritage. A really good example is the golfer Tiger Woods. I bet you think he's Black. Well, he's actually only 1/4 Black, and not only that, but most of his heritage is Asian. But since he LOOKS Black, people just call him Black. Most people think he's just African-American and NO OTHER RACE, and it's assumptions like this that annoy me.

Also, if you are reading this, I am impressed. Blogspot has millions of accounts, so I'm actually wondering if anyone will ever read this. If you do read this, please leave a comment! (You don't have to say something about race, you can just say "hi" or something!)