Image Comics Doesn’t Want Joshua Luna To Talk About Racism

(5 min read)

When we tell our own stories, we’re told they’re not “relatable”. Relatable to whom?

Joshua Luna is one half of the Luna Brothers — a duo responsible for writing and illustrating best-selling comics Ultra, Girls, and The Sword — and the creator of Whispers. But he’s also known for making more openly political comic strips that center the Asian American and Filipino-American experience, from celebrating queer Asian love to challenging anti-Asian racism:

Because of its emphasis on decolonization, this is combat art — what Franz Fanon calls “combat literature” in The Wretched of the Earth¹. Luna’s work encourages self-love and community healing while deconstructing racist behaviors and ideologies with sharp social critique. This made his publisher, Image Comics, uncomfortable.

He recently pitched a collection of his Asian American comics to Image for publication, but was treated so poorly during the process that communications broke down and he decided to go public with his ordeal.

For details, see the following Twitter thread:

It’s much easier to point the finger at the Richard Spencers of society than to turn inward and examine one’s own implicit racial biases. So Image Partners gave various excuses for their reluctance to publish AMERICANIZASIAN: it was too “angry” and needed to be “more positive”; it tempted legal action for parodying trademarked characters; and it had “no story for people to relate to”.

One white male Partner even implied that Luna could make the Asian American experience more relatable by taking inspiration from the Hulu show PEN15, which is about a half-white, half-Japanese protagonist (he also mentioned that his wife is half-Japanese)². Luna is Filipino, and it makes no sense for him to center white characters in strips that focus on his own experiences.

According to a keynote speech from last year’s Image Expo, Image Comics has a reputation for publishing content that “no other publisher would dare take a risk on… because we believe every one of those weird and wonderful series represents a new opportunity to capture a new audience.” In that same speech, Publisher Eric Stephenson proudly claimed that “fortune favors the bold”, implying that their commitment to publishing controversial content is what made them a successful company.³

The fear of copyright infringement sounds disingenuous when Luna’s previously published work at Image parodied trademarked characters (Ultra), and former Partner Erik Larsen’s own Savage Dragon character is heavily inspired by The Incredible Hulk.

Larsen, by the way, has previously drawn Internet outrage for making tone-deaf statements about women wearing practical costumes in comics⁴, as well as inserting gratuitous sex scenes in Savage Dragon that feature an Asian woman drawn to look underage. (Unsurprisingly, he is married to an Asian woman, yet has no problem hypersexualizing Asian women in his own comics.)⁵

Maxine is obsessed with sex in Savage Dragon — recalling Vietnam War-era propaganda

And in 2017, when Howard Chaykin released inflammatory “Divided States of Hysteria” covers that featured gratuitous violence against men of color and transwomen⁶ as well as a hijab of the American flag, Stephenson defended Image’s decision to publish them, saying, “If The Divided States of Hysteria prompts just a single productive conversation about the present state of our society, then it has succeeded in its goals and is a story worth sharing.”⁷

But when real marginalized voices like Luna speak about equally contentious and political topics like racism, they’re asked to water down their work. This tone policing double-standard implies that provocative content is only welcome when it comes from white male authors.

When we tell our own stories, in our own words, we’re told that they’re not “relatable”. To whom?

Since going public, Luna has received an outpouring of support and solidarity from his diverse fanbase, who all expressed their desire see this book made:

Collective action is the backbone of every civil rights movement. By making private issues of inequality public, it demands accountability for discrimination that would otherwise be kept hidden and unaddressed while granting power in numbers to those who would not have it individually. Larsen, who condemned Luna for speaking out about his consistent mistreatment by Image staff, tried to further dismiss and shame him for choosing to go public and draw on the support of his own fanbase to get AMERICANIZASIAN made with a POC-run publisher.

When creators of color challenge their white male employers to go public with the discrimination they face in the workplace, they risk losing a lot: their source of income, their industry connections, and their following. In a recent interview with The Beat, Luna expressed concerns about being sued by Image or blacklisted by other publishers or creators in the greater comics community:

“Within hours of going public with what happened, I received an email from the partner describing my post as slander, libel and outright lying…I think comics and the media industry as a whole has been dragging its feet in acknowledging the history and severity of anti-Asian narratives and imagery, to the point where it’d rather kill the messenger than acknowledge the message.”⁸

We at PAV are not here to placate or pacify those who willfully silence POC for talking about their lived experiences under structural racism. As our political climate marches in step with racist ideology, harming marginalized people at the institutional level through imperialist policies both foreign and domestic, it’s important for us to support creators whose works challenge the false narratives spread by white supremacy.

Please help Joshua Luna continue to make a living and get his comics published by a POC-run publisher by sharing his content and donating to his Patreon or PayPal.


J Maraan edits all the things and sometimes writes. She co-hosts Journey to the West, a podcast that centers Asian women’s views on diaspora issues and current events. Find her on Twitter at @j_maraan and @JTTWPodcast.

End Notes:

  1. Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press, 1963.

[JttW #45] Decolonial Love: Swipe Left On Internalized Racism

By Sen Tien

We unpack “A Very Offensive Rom-Com”, an episode of NPR’s Invisibilia podcast with special guest, Maka (@_fakeMT).

“A Very Offensive Rom-Com” (NPR):

Breaking the ‘girl code’ and internalized racism (Vi Nguyen):

Breaking the ‘girl code’ and internalized racism

White Sexual Imperialism: A Theory of Asian Feminist Jurisprudence (Sunny Woan):

[JttW #44] Orientalism

By Sen Tien

We expand upon Orientalism as not just a series of racist stereotypes but a structural arm of white supremacy. This includes feminization of Asia through colonialism and mass media.

Sources & Shoutouts:

I’m A Filipina USC Graduate — Stop Associating Students of Color with the College Bribery Scam (Medium):

Joe Wong Wants Asian American to Speak Up (Plan A):

Performance Review Gender Bias (Fortune):

Examining Agency in Racial Preferences and Endorsements of Negative Stereotypes Across Sexualities (Part 2)

(15 min read)

Toxic White Masculinity

Of course, when scrutinizing the Asian women who ignore the marginalization of Asian men, it is also critical to examine the behaviors from the opposite side, as there are problematic behaviors and mentalities that are propagated and adopted by a number of men in online spaces. Nowhere is this more apparent than in spaces like Reddit, which is home to a number of Asian men who reactively exhibit toxic or contradictory behaviors—behaviors that would ironically deter Asian women, whether they are on the fence regarding these matters or supportive of Asian men. While not everyone in these spaces engages in these behaviors, it is still an issue worth criticizing.


The problem with posts such as these is that they serve as ammunition for faux Asian feminists and activists to use and argue that Asian men are indeed patriarchal, white-worshipping, petty, internalizing racism, MRAs, PUAs, Red Pillers, and whatnot.

Unfortunately, these are not only limited to dating:


Posts like these only serve to victim-blame Asian and Asian American men for the marginalization they wrongfully face. Rather than addressing the issues, they only further reinforce and uphold white supremacy without confronting or dismantling these structures and institutions, which have global influence due to Western countries’ adoption of neoliberalism. They are, whether directly or indirectly, perpetuating the narrative that in order for diasporic and native Asian men to transgress the confinements of emasculation, they must emulate toxic white masculinity—ultimately seeking to attain the same privileges, status, and power that white men hold over white women and women of color rather than condemning and eradicating these toxic ideologies. Ultimately, the onus is on white men and women, of course, as they are the ones who have created these notions, but perpetuating these same ideologies is counterproductive as it fails to address the fundamental reason for inequality by allowing power to remain in the hands of the oppressor.

Again, while it is important to note that these types of Asian men do exist and they are problematic to progress, especially in regards to mobilizing men and women to stand together among our fractured diasporic communities, it is also very problematic to view Asian men as a monolith.

A Holistic Problem

So, what is problematic about these Tweets and posts regarding each half of the Asian community? After all, it would be completely deceptive to argue that a subsection of Asian men with misogynistic behaviors or Asian women with internalized racism and misogyny are nonexistent. What is troubling about this discourse is not the acknowledgment that these people exist, but how these issues are being addressed.

When discussing the behaviors or actions of Asian men and/or women as a collective, especially from the perspective of someone from a diaspora, how they are socially conditioned matters. These individuals often juxtapose Asians to whites—typically at the expense of the former and to the glorification of the latter.

Additionally, too many of these individuals are generalizing, slandering, and disparaging all members of the opposite sex based on the actions of a vocal minority. Accusations of misogyny and toxic masculinity, while applicable to a number of Asian men, should not be made lightly. Doing so only perpetuates the narrative that these behaviors are inherent to Asian men, who already struggle with attaining a voice and whose issues are dismissed due to the presumption that they benefit from male privilege in diasporic spaces. Likewise, when addressing the issue of Asian women being complicit in perpetuating negative stereotypes and upholding the status quo, it is important to remember that responding by adopting misogynistic ideologies, especially alt-right, Red Pill, MRA, PUA, or other toxic white masculine ideologies, will only serve to widen the gap between both Asian men and women.

Regardless of the intention, people will read these messages and potentially internalize them—this is especially true for individuals with influence like Celeste Ng or Ellen Oh, both of whom have a large online following. Treating Asian women and men as separate entities, as if we exist in a fictional vacuum or independently of one another, will only prevent the necessary discussions from being had and impede real progress.

Take, for example, the circumstances in intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic marriages within the Asian American community¹³:

Patterns of Intermarriages and Cross-Generational In-Marriages among Native-Born Asian Americans, The International Migration Review, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Fall 2009)

Overall, the inter-ethnic marriage rates among the various Asian American ethnicities born in the United States are higher than the intra-ethnic marriage rates. Rather than marrying Asians from other ethnic backgrounds, a plethora of diasporic Asians are marrying whites. The highest rates of interracial marriage occur between white men and Asian women, particularly Korean, Japanese, Filipina, and Chinese American women, with Korean American women marrying out the highest at 45.1%. While Asian American men do marry out to white women, the rates are still relatively lower compared to Asian American women, and they tend to marry Asians from other ethnic backgrounds at a higher rate. What’s particularly important to note is that the diasporic population of Asians around the 1960s and 1970s was increasing at a rapid rate, primarily due to the influx of Asians from the motherland.

Another study found that only sixty-five percent of Asian American men interviewed were in a romantic relationship or partnership¹⁴; on the contrary, over seventy-five percent of non-Asian American men report being in a relationship or partnership. Not even education elevates the chances of an Asian American man’s appeal, despite them being twice as likely as white men to attain a bachelor’s degree. Other factors, such as socioeconomic status, cultural background, and nativity status, also appears to have little effect in improving the desirability towards Asian men. Another study cited in the aforementioned paper also found that over “ninety percent of women from different racial groups with racial preferences excluded Asian American men,” with forty percent of Asian women expressing a similar sentiment. What’s interesting to note is that “Asian women are just as likely to be in a romantic partnership as white women.” The same cannot be said for their male counterparts:

“The differences we identified between white and Asian men were consistent with notions of a racial hierarchy in dating preferences… Published U.S. Census statistics on marriage suggest that Asian American men eventually marry; among Asian American men ages 40 to 50 years, just 12% are reported as never married compared with 16% of white men. However, these figures include Asian men who dated and married outside of the US – hence, they would not have suffered under the same racial hierarchy as they might have had they dated in the US.”

This is not suggestive of romantic privilege among Asian women, as some might argue, considering that the reason for their supposed success in dating out can be chalked up to their perceived hyper-feminization, which simultaneously applies to heterosexual and homosexual Asian men, although it manifests differently and ultimately to all Asians’ detriment. Asian women, like Asian men, are still not treated as people.

Queer Sexual Racism

When addressing interracial relationships within the Asian diasporas, the perspectives of queer Asians are often missing. Unfortunately, as with any subset of a population, the issues that afflict the queer Asian community reflect those that afflict the Asian diasporas, as evident in articles like Vice’s “Online Racism Makes IRL Dating Hell for Gay Asian Men”¹⁵. While there’s a fair amount of media addressing the prevalence of racism towards Asian men in the gay and queer communities, the same cannot be said for queer Asian women. Thankfully, I was able to find two Reddit posts that I believe echo the hurdles that queer Asian men face in the dating world and an article that reflects the uncomfortable racial dynamics belying interracial relationships with white people¹⁶. Perhaps it should be taken with a grain of salt, considering how little information there is, but since similar problems seem to afflict all other individuals of different sexual orientations in the Asian diasporas, there is little reason to presume that it is any different.


As evident by the above screenshots from the Actual Lesbians subreddit, the first user posting the thread is challenging white lesbians who echo statements similar to their male counterparts—both heterosexual and queer—and virtue signal to women of color in an attempt to make them feel honored that a white woman has made a woman of color an exception to the rule. On the other hand, the second user questions whether they are attracted to Asian women. While this may seem genuine, why does it matter that white women, specifically, are attracted to her? If anything, this inquiry comes across as a plea for white women to validate the user’s sexual appeal and attractiveness. Her acknowledgment of white men’s supposed attraction towards Asian women—which is rooted in a history of colonialism, rape, exploitation, and simultaneous ignorance of the racial and power dynamics belying relationships between Asians and whites—is problematic, to say the least.


These two Tumblr screenshots exemplify how racist queer white women can be and how they too contribute to upholding and perpetuating white hegemony over racial minorities. Though queer white women face both homophobia and sexism, due to the intersectionality of sexual orientation and gender, they are still benefactors of white supremacy and will thereby exhibit similar behaviors and adopt racist ideologies. They may even act more defensively when confronted than heterosexual white women avoiding accountability by citing a heteronormative culture that overlooks the hurdles that queer women face and marginalizes them. Their marginalized identity is used as a shield to deflect valid criticism of their racist behavior.

If this transpires in the lesbian community and among queer women, then it should come as no surprise that it also transpires in the gay community.

A book titled Geisha of a Different Kind: Race and Sexuality in Gaysian America by C. Winter Han delves into the racist perceptions of gay Asian men that are often internalized and externalized by both gay Asian men and other members of the gay community, and how they shape self-image, interpersonal relationships, and other facets of life¹⁷. Steeped in Orientalism, these have led to the gendering of Asians as feminine compared to the masculine, idealized Europeans and the idea of the inferior Other—essentially establishing the idea of a normal in-group and an abnormal out-group, similar to that of the paternalistic master and slave dynamic. It is important to note that these racist perceptions and beliefs are not exclusive to gay Asian men and are applicable to all Asians, regardless of sexual orientation, place of birth, gender, class, income, and other factors, though they may manifest and impact different demographic subsets of the population in slightly different ways.

The following quotes, sum up the current state of the gay community, as well as how gay Asian men are gendered and racialized by whites and by one another:

“Sometimes, some of the men I’ve slept with, some of the recreational, you know, habits or drug choices that I’ve made. Some of the priorities I have made in the past were not always the best because I have wanted to look, to appear to lead, a different lifestyle as opposed to the one I actually have or am given. I think most of it is me, maybe not wanting to be white, but a lot of it has to do with being, wanting to be accepted by whites.”

“It, [in reference to rice queens and the like], is an attraction to me because of my Asiannesss, my otherness. Again, this has nothing to do with who I think I am, my individual qualities as a person, or even as an object of desire. It is the fact that I conveniently fit into someone else’s fantasy. And they expect me to be so flattered by the attention of a white man that I will automatically bend over and grab my ankles.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate my culture. I love learning about the history of it, the traditions I know of. I understand the language, I just can’t speak it. I guess personality-wise, I just don’t fit in. I am more independent, I want to get out of the house. I’m more rebellious.”

“I’m the whitest Asian boy you’re ever going to meet. I mean, I’m just not like other Asians. I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable around them. See, with Asians, there’s this sense of competition, like you have to be the best, you have to go to the best schools, have the best cars, things like that. I never got into that. I was always much more laid back, I was always like, whatever. So, I guess, I’m not the stereotypical Asian guy.”

“With Asians, almost all of them do drag or walk like a faggot, are skinny, limp wrist and will basically suck off any old fat white man that they come across because that is all they are able to get looking the foul way they do. Even most Asians are repulsed by their own kind and chase white men because even they find themselves disgusting.”

“Asians didn’t date other Asians. We only dated outside of, um, we only dated non-Asians. In fact, I remember the very first time that I met an Asian who dated Asians. I actually sat him down and quizzed him for an hour because he was just such a strange animal, I mean, you know, I couldn’t believe I met someone like this… But we only dated other people that were not Asians, they could be black, they could be Hispanic, although we didn’t date a whole lot of blacks or Hispanics, just a few. Um, mainly white.”

“I always feel like I stick out, walking down the street, at work, at school. And it isn’t that I want to be invisible, not that, but I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be a part of things, I wanted to not have to explain. I always had to narrate who I was and [his white partner] could walk into any situation and people would love him. He’s intelligent, he’s articulate, he’s very social, he’s blonde haired and blue eyed and good looking. I never thought I could do or get or have, um, I guess a part of it is identity and part of it is self-esteem. I didn’t think I could get those things without him.”

“In the gay community, there’s a big sense of competition among gay Asian guys [due to the lack of rice queens, a term used to describe gay white men who prefer Asian men]. It’s this, “I want a white guy thing.” So, a lot of gay Asian men see each other as competition and so they don’t really want to be friends with you. I mean, there are straight Asian guys who are bananas [a pejorative term for Asian people who are perceived as wanting to be white] but in the gay community, it seems so much more common.”

“I’d go to a bar and there would be like two Asian people there, and I would be one of them and I tried to go talk to the Asian guy, because that’s what I’m used to, you know, the racial solidarity thing, and they would brush me off.”

“During one Night FantAsia event, there was a midnight show where the drag queen hosting the event brought four men on stage to play the dating game. Not surprisingly, the man selected from the patrons to play the role of the “bachelor” who selects a date among three choices was a white man, while the three “contestants” vying for his attention were all Asian… The host asked the contestants, “If you were to sleep in a bunk bed, would you sleep on the top bunk or the bottom bunk?” Predictably, the first contestant answered, bottom, followed by the second contestant who gave the same answers. The expected answers were met with polite laughter. However, when the third contestant answered that he would sleep on the top bunk, the audience, both Asian and white, began yelling out their disbelief.”

“For the longest time, I really thought it was me. I thought I wasn’t doing something right, I thought if I only tried harder, if I only did this or that. After a while, you start questioning your own worth and thinking that you don’t have any. That took a long time to overcome, a really long time.”

As one can see from these anecdotes and observations from gay Asian men, which have been prevalent throughout the community and has been noted by the author himself, one can see the pattern of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs that are present in the gay Asian community manifesting in heterosexual Asian women as well. This is, of course, not only limited to these two demographics, considering that these biased images and beliefs apply to all Asians, regardless of background or personal characteristics.

Race Trumps All

What about Asian men and white women?

It is important to note that while this interracial pairing does happen¹⁸, it is not as prevalent as the inverse due to the fact that white women overwhelmingly prefer white men¹⁹; however, the same issues that afflict the rest of the population among the Asian diasporas can still be observed in these types of relationships. Considering how queer Asian men and both queer and heterosexual women do pedestalize and seek validation and approval from white people, treat their white partners as trophies, adopt white fragility, protect and uphold white supremacy, discreetly or overtly seek to distance themselves from their Asianness, etcetera, it should be noted that the same can apply to heterosexual Asian men. Studies also confirm that a number of Asian men view the success of romancing non-Asian women as an indicator of elevation in status²⁰, likely as a byproduct of their subjugation through emasculation or internalization of negative stereotypes regarding Asian women.

What this ultimately boils down to is how race trumps gender, sexual orientation, income status, and other factors. Race is the primary factor that determines how you will experience life in the West, whether or not you are cognizant of it, as well as the prevalence of internalized racism within the Asian diasporas.

According to a paper written by Liao, the “Internalized Racism Scale for Asian Americans” (IRSAA) has five factors, which are Endorsement of Negative Stereotypes, Sense of Inferiority, Denial or Minimization of Racism, Emasculation of Asian American Men, and Within-group Discrimination”. While there is much to say regarding this topic and the study conducted, the ultimate purpose of this tactic is to uphold white hegemony by keeping the oppressed complacent. Internalized racism conditions diasporic Asians to feel racially subpar to whites and to accept fabricated stereotypes, thereby leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy where they embody these stereotypes or endorse racist views and sentiments associated with their own ethnic groups, demographics, and cultures as truth.

It also markets the desire to be more “white,” whether physically or culturally, as a means to attain upward mobility and acceptance, and typically includes preferences and biases towards whites over Asians and other people of color. Internalized racism also leads to individuals discriminating against members of their own racial group through endeavors to distinguish themselves from the racial stereotypes associated and to “rise above them”—sometimes manifesting in a superiority complex within the individual over the “inferior” rest of the group. Finally, it leads to the denial or downplay of racism against Asians, whether towards Asians collectively or towards a particular ethnic group, and is typically linked to the adoption of “colorblindness”, a racial ideology that insists ignoring race will eliminate racism²².

Given how individuals tend to act when socializing with whites vs. Asians or other people of color, those who are intimately affiliated with white people, romantically or platonically, are subject to scrutiny and skepticism from a subset of the community. Considering the current state of the Asian diasporas and the looming presence of white hegemony over every other facet of our lives, from income, status, legal issues, mental health, education and more—is it truly a surprise that the relationships that are most intimate and valued to us are also heavily biased?

As individuals responsible for the socialization and construction of our own homes, communities, societies, cultures, and the world, for giving fuel to existing ideologies, behaviors, and biases, is it completely unwarranted to assert that our personal lives are also political? Is it unwarranted to acknowledge that our personal relationships, like other choices and actions we take in our lives, can play a role in dismantling or upholding the current structures under which we live? Is it unwarranted that we criticize and hold individuals, groups, and institutions that uphold these structures accountable, especially when they serve to further marginalize or oppress us?

Can we truly ignore the larger implications of our personal choices?

Even Tria Chang knows she can’t:

“He hates it when I do this. So do I, really. I know it’s unkind and self-loathing, but every time I see another couple of our racial makeup, a little part of me sinks. We live in San Francisco, so this dip is as common as the hills. In these moments, I wish we were anything else ― that he were my gay best friend or we were startup co-founders, that he were Asian and I were white, that we were exquisitely ambiguous races, or that I could sink like my feelings into the sidewalk, be a little worm, and date whomever I want without considering social perception.”

(Part 1)

Written by Jia


  5. Han, C. Winter. Geisha of a Different Kind: Race and Sexuality in Gaysian America. NYU Press, 2015. JSTOR,

Examining Agency in Racial Preferences and Endorsements of Negative Stereotypes Across Sexualities (Part 1)

(10 min read)

An article by Tria Chang recently surfaced on the Huffington Post, where she expresses her frustrations and disappointment with the prevalence of white male-Asian female relationships and how they are rooted in fetishization, violence, and colonization¹. In it, she details her experiences with being romantically involved with non-Asian men (though it would come to no surprise if she is alluding solely to white men), albeit being fully cognizant of the hyper-sexualization of Asian women and how racist it is. She then goes on to talk about how she struggled with internalizing racist views of Asian women—she felt she was an anomaly and thereby unattractive, and thought that attraction towards women like her was a kink.

Copywrite Chiarashine Photography, LLC Isabell Lin
Tria Chang and her fiancé [CHIARASHINE PHOTOGRAPHY]
After she dated a string of racist non-Asian men, married and divorced an Asian man, and dated another, she found herself attracted to a white man and is now engaged to him. She detailed how her relationship with him developed from that of acquaintances to partners and reveals that he, like other non-Asian men she has been romantically involved with, has had a history of dating Asian women. When confronted about it, her boyfriend got defensive and, like most men who pursue Asian women, gave a typical excuse: he “never thought about it.” Like a plethora of articles written by women like her, who choose to shoulder the burden of educating white men—much like the Beauty attempting to reform and tame the Beast from his misguided and ignorant ways—she proceeds to reprimand him for his behavior and remains wholly devoted to him. She concludes the article by expressing content with her current situation and alludes to how different her current relationship with her partner is from other white male-Asian female couples.

At one point, she refers to his defensive reaction to her calling him out on his dating history as “one of those hot white guy traits”. What on earth are “hot white guy traits,” and why is it relevant to what she’s been talking about?

Considering how many Instagram accounts², Medium articles³, YouTube videos⁴, Everyday Feminism articles⁵, Buzzfeed articles⁶, and even artists⁷ attempt to address yellow fever and tell white men how they should treat Asian women—typically women dating, seeking, or receptive to white men—Chang’s article reads like another drop in the sea of media uselessly highlighting this issue. Unfortunately, like every other article and video, it recycles the same pervasive ideology: white men should be held accountable for hyper-sexualizing, objectifying, and Orientalizing Asian women, but they are ultimately still worthy of an Asian woman’s affections, love, and time. In some cases, the author herself will insist that she does not care what others wish to believe and dilutes conversations regarding this topic by insisting “love is love”⁸, which ultimately masks the serious racial dynamics at play in these pairings.

Asian Feminism?

For me, one of the most concerning messages is the notion that it is perfectly acceptable to continually seek out that unicorn of a white man, because white men are still deserving of emotional labor and education from the Asian women they harm. It also creates a social climate where, regardless of what white men do, no matter how racist, sexist, and homophobic they are or how little they invest into challenging and overthrowing white supremacy, they will still be viewed as desirable—that is, if they are not perceived as overtly racist and sexist by the Asian women who covet them.

Why is the onus on Asian women to educate white men, who continually benefit from white supremacy? The very idea that other options are possible, ones where the burden of reforming white men’s racist and sexist behaviors and biases can be alleviated or completely eradicated, even if they have been previously explored, do not seem to cross these women’s minds. Why should any white man wish to change, outside of some measly, superficial attempts at placating his partner, when he undoubtedly benefits from his position at the top of a white supremacist racial hierarchy? Despite being hurt by white men’s willful ignorance when it comes to racism and their role in perpetuating and remaining complicit with the racist structures, notions, and cultures that they have imposed on Asians and other people of color, it seems that being intimate with white men is still quite a viable option.

Even Chang admits:

“It took me a little while to figure this out, but once I became more settled in college, I met my first Asian boyfriend, who ended up being my husband. Sadly, he also became my ex-husband. This relationship was followed by one with another Asian male. Suffice it to say, I went a decade without the thought of white men or Asian fetish even crossing my mind. Now it’s something I think about every day, because of said fiancé.”

“I rolled my eyes at the luxury white men have to not think about race in their daily lives. I, on the other hand, started obsessing over it. I couldn’t be the girlfriend of someone who had an Asian fetish because that would make me complicit in a pattern that was rooted in violence and colonization.”

Unfortunately, the lengths that some Asian women will go to defend their choices to date or marry white men come at the expense of Asian men.

An e-mail sent to Celeste Ng, author of the best-selling novel All the Things I’ve Never Told You, sparked controversy on Twitter last year. Presumably sent to her by an Asian man attending university, the message contained abusive and disparaging language, which led to her writing a series of threads in which she denounces Asian men for being misogynistic and initiating harassment of Asian women in online spaces. While the overall controversy will not be discussed here, the background information and links to the original threads can be read at the end of the article (Part 2).

While engaging in discourse with other users online, a number of notable Tweets stood out:


This phenomenon is not new. A plethora of Asian American women, faux feminists, and pseudo-intellectuals have regurgitated similar talking points against Asian American men and, more specifically, expressed their disdain for any and all criticism of white men-Asian women relationships:








Even Ng expresses this problematic view in a Tweet back in 2015:


Upon viewing these Tweets, one might wonder what is wrong with these claims, since sexist and racist Asian men do exist. But while the users vehemently speak out against the misogynistic and patriarchal behaviors of Asian men, they seem completely supportive of works like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a film featuring an Asian American girl whose love interests who are white-passing. Save for the token Black boy, who is conveniently homosexual, they all adhere to the Eurocentric masculine ideals. Much like the token men of color on mainstream television shows like The Bachelorette, the single man of color in the film is not a viable partner. Despite the rise of movements like #MeToo, created by Tarana Burke to address sexual harassment and assault against women—one where the behaviors of prominent white men were called into question—there appears to be little to no criticism of white men’s abuse of privilege and power. Considering that a vast majority of these women are born or living in Western countries, specifically the United States, institutionalized white male patriarchy is far more prevalent and influential than Asian male patriarchy.

Look at these following Tweets, one made from Celeste and one made from Jenny Han, author of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before:



Notice how different the tone is, despite the fact that both of these men have clearly externalized their racist views towards Asians. McCain has unabashedly justified his usage of the term “gook,” a racial slur that is often thrown at Koreans and Vietnamese. He fought in a war where soldiers were instructed to murder as many Vietnamese civilians as possible⁹ and were free to rape Vietnamese women and girls¹⁰. Jenny Han, a Korean American herself, appears content with overlooking that aspect of his history and hails him as a hero. Likewise, in Ng’s experience, a Vietnam war veteran verbally abuses her and her family with racial slurs, yet she urges others to respond with the kind of sympathy and understanding that she refuses to give Asian men who also suffer under white patriarchy.

The language used in the e-mail Ng received was unacceptable and the individual in question, if Asian, should be shunned by the community. But for her to take the action of a single individual or vocal minority and generalize this behavior to apply to a collective of Asian men, weaponizing her followers with false narratives that harm and defame Asian men is not acceptable either.

While engaging in related discourse with people online, she also received a comment from a white man spewing racists against Asian men, and surprisingly enough, she fails to unabashedly condemn his behavior and centers herself instead.


Her overall lack of empathy for the hurdles that Asian men face, to which she has directly contributed with earlier statements emphasizing that she does not find them attractive, can be seen again in the following Tweet:


She even wrote an article for The Cut to address the events that transpired¹¹. In it, she acknowledges the hurdles that Asian men face while navigating through the world and how she has only exacerbated the negative stereotypes afflicting them—a tactic similar to “lampshading”¹², where a writer expresses self-awareness about racism, homophobia, etcetera, through humor while failing to critique or challenge bigotry—but ultimately continue to paint diasporic Asian men as race purists, misogynistic overlords, and abusive.

“Acknowledging bigotry is not the same thing as critiquing bigotry.”

— from Pop Culture Detective’s “The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory”

(Part 2)

Written by Jia




JttW Episode 35: Youtube Influencers

By Sen Tien

Vi and Sen touch on influencers and their impact on YouTube. Mostly focus on the beauty community and how it affects Asian women.

Find us on Twitter:

Official Twitter:
J. Maraan:
Sen Tien:

Please leave a review on Apple Podcasts:

Listen on Andriod:

We’re also on Stitcher:

Read Vi’s Article:

JttW Episode 34: The Personal Is Political

By Sen Tien

J, Sen, and guest, Albert from ProAsian Voice, break down community attitudes toward anti-Asian racism and discuss marginalization, collective power, social responsibility, and the need to build beyond oppressive structures rather than within them to achieve liberation.


JttW Episode 33: Internalized Racism

By Sen Tien

The four of us come back to discuss internalized racism. We categorize them as: Punchline Asian, Fatalistic Asian, Racebending Asian, Model Minority, White Apologist and Alt Right Asian.

Racist Love in 2018: My Experiences with Asian American Activism

(10 min read time)


(Photo by Mark Ralston /AFP/Getty Images)

It all began with an Asian American Fiction class.

A young Korean American college student, I eagerly awaited my first-ever Asian American Studies course. Class-required readings included very representative and completely unproblematic Asian American classics such as Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club and Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. My South Asian instructor was especially adamant about discrediting any criticism of Joy Luck Club or Amy Tan, citing the novel’s role in empowering Asian women like herself. Knowing Joy Luck Club was consistently criticized for its orientalist tropes¹, white savior narrative², and negative portrayal of Asian men³, when Celeste Ng’s ridiculous tweets suggesting she found Asian men “unattractive” because we all reminded her of her “cousins” resurfaced online, I started to question my instructor’s logic.

During one lecture, she made it a point to dismiss author and pioneering playwright Frank Chin as nothing more than an angry misogynist. Already skeptical of her views, I looked up Frank Chin and eventually stumbled upon “Racist Love”, an essay he co-wrote with Jeffery Paul Chan.⁴ Nearly half a century later, no body of work more plainly lays out the current state of Asian America. This 1972 paper answered the question I asked myself in 2018:

If novels and authors that claim to uplift Asian women while disparaging Asian men are lauded and deemed mainstays of an Asian American curriculum, then what does that mean for me as an Asian man living in America?

“[Most Asian American authors] confirm the popular stereotypes of Chinese-Americans, find Chinese-America repulsive, and don’t identify with it… The white stereotype of the Asian is unique in that it is the only racial stereotype completely devoid of manhood…The mere fact that [most] American-born Chinese-American writers are women reinforces this aspect of the stereotype.”
— Frank Chin and Jeffery Paul Chan, “Racist Love”

The seminal essay introduced me to white supremacy’s harmful and persistent machinations and explained Asian America’s decision to sell out through its “acceptance of white standards of objectivity, beauty, behavior, and achievement as being morally absolute”. These revelations violently woke me from a lifelong mental stupor. I suddenly realized that each racial micro- and macro- aggression I experienced throughout my life was intimately connected to and deeply rooted in my country’s toxic relationship with Yellow-ness. Energized by a mix of anger, curiosity, shame, and — ironically —relief, I scoured the Internet for more meaningful discourse to further develop my racial awareness. Browsing Asian subreddits, I sifted through a number of “how to get white girls and be an alpha Asian bro” posts but eventually found some older, informative threads as well as Tales from Mangri-La, a wonderful podcast dedicated to critically examining the Asian male experience.⁵

One thing led to another. I discovered #AsianTwitter, and without even realizing it, I learned about a broad array of topics concerning Asian America, like the prevalence of white men-Asian women romantic pairings, how Affirmative Action fails to accommodate Asian Americans, the lack of non-racist media representation, and the systemic oppression Asian Americans face under white supremacy, among other things.


I hoped this type of content would inspire the birth of a true Asian American racial consciousness. But after a couple of months, I realized they were echo chambers. Sure, current events and recent developments generated fresh conversations, but the comments and reactions started to look too familiar. Becoming aware of the historic and continued oppression my people face inspired me to engage in activism beyond preaching to the choir. If I did nothing with this knowledge, then I would be complicit with injustice and therefore one with our oppressor. An opportunity presented itself when my mom told me about the Koreatown protests against the undemocratic executive decision to build a homeless shelter in the heart of Koreatown, which was made without consulting local residents.⁶

The Korean news media swarmed me, asking for my perspective as a Korean youth. I must have been one of the youngest folks there, and all the 할머니s (halmeonis) and 할아버지s (hal-abeojis) excitedly expressed how comforting it was to see a young Korean on their side of the protest. I began to understand what they meant as I ran into some mid-to-late Millennial counter-protesters handing out Herb Wesson-issued “myth/fact” sheets designed to curb protest efforts. This pattern of younger Asians dismissing the value of community input extended to social media, where I found some of my Asian American Studies peers peddling the same dishonest, one-sided takes. They accused all Koreans of NIMBY and vilified us as anti-black while regurgitating other anti-Asian liberal talking points (that we are “Crazy Rich” and more privileged than white people), and suggested that denying Asians a voice in how policy is implemented in their own communities is necessary collateral damage to solve homelessness.



Online argument with a counter-protester who is totally unaware of the political situation; my response in the middle


A typical response from an Asian American Studies major

Although I refuted their untenable positions (with the help of some random Korean dude I ran into at the protest named Albert), they had greater numbers and stronger optics. My decision to defend Koreatown from an exploitative city council was met with hostility from the same Asian American Studies students who are supposed to be the
educated voices and leaders of my community.

“The [acceptable, AKA sellout] minority’s reaction to racist policy is acceptance and apparent satisfaction.”
— Frank Chin and Jeffery Paul Chan, “Racist Love”

In the end, we won. Koreatown residents were able to choose a new location for the shelter a half-mile away from the originally proposed site. The opposition was never to aiding the homeless, but to the city council’s decision to build structures in Koreatown without asking the locals where these shelters would be placed — something that did not occur in wealthier, whiter cities, whose actual NIMBYism shifted their burden onto communities of color.

Despite my disgust with Asian American Studies majors churning out pseudo-intellectual word salads, I spent the next few months listening to lectures for an introductory Asian American Studies class. Unlike the Asian American Fiction seminar, which primarily consisted of non-majors, this class was a requirement for all students enrolled in Asian American Studies. It was a history course, covering everything from Asians emigrating from China to escape the Opium Wars to how we became the present day “model minority”. But though the material covered a wide variety of topics, the tone of the lectures did not correspond with the truly grim Asian American history I knew; the massacres, lynchings, and ethnic cleansing that terrorized the first wave of Asian Americans were all missing. I had to feign ignorance and interject mid-lecture with questions for the professor to briefly discuss the emasculation of Asian men, Chinese bachelor societies, and the genocide of Asian men through the pincer effect of the 1875 Page Act and anti-miscegenation laws. After class, I even approached the professor to point out what I believed to be notable absences from her lecture material, only to be lavished with unwanted praise about how “smart” I was while she completely ignored my questions.

I knew another Asian American Studies professor, whom I previously befriended at some networking event. This woman was the director of the Asian American Studies center and her name is well known across academic circles. I dropped by her office one day, where we struck up a conversation that eventually led to the topic of race. Shockingly, she concluded that we must even sympathize with white nationalists for the sake of racial progress. She tried to justify her idea by making some vague reference to Malcolm X becoming an internationalist late in his life, which still bewilders me because Malcolm X turned to the international stage to build a pan-African movement that would dismantle white supremacy, not to sing “Kumbaya” with racist white people.

Still wanting to explore real-world Asian activism, I secured a summer internship at the K.W. Lee Center, a Koreatown-based non-profit, before the end of the school year. Unlike my previous engagements with Asian activism, which were often frustrating, my time at the K.W. Lee Center was an overall positive experience. I learned what community organizing was like first-hand with fellow Korean-Americans and developed a good relationship with the president, who deeply cares for Koreatown. I even enjoyed interacting with the high school interns, whose (terrible) freestyle rap battles, oily teenage faces, and excessively noisy conversations over girls, music, and sports made me think of how obnoxious I must have been at their age.

But things were not always so rosy and nostalgic at the K.W. Lee Center. One of the trainers was a Korean American woman who constantly bragged about going on dates with white men, and the other was a Korean American man who constantly lectured me about my “light-skinned Asian male privilege”. Unsurprisingly, his college major was Asian American Studies.

While interning there, I spent a weekend at the Pilipino Workers Center in Downtown for Summer Activist Training (SAT), a 3-day program that serves as a boot camp for aspiring Asian American activists. A motley group of folks was present — men, women, queer, dark-skinned, light-skinned, rich, poor — but all were Asians in their 20s. I went in with high hopes based on a friend’s recommendation but I was sorely disappointed by the end. Our days were filled with workshops led by spokespeople from fairly prominent Asian non-profits. As I sat through these presentations, which consisted of trivial and irrelevant activist training activities such as learning storytelling to garner sympathy and playing games to develop “teamwork”, I quietly observed these self-proclaimed activists.

One woman, a representative from some Asian American labor advocacy organization, shared unsolicited details about her aspiring modeling career. Another woman passionately informed us about the poor working conditions of Thai women and how we must “do something”, not specifying what exactly that something would be, and then left after being picked up by her white husband. Someone from the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED) tried to enlighten us with ideas of a new utopia in which Asian Americans, with their reprehensibly enormous wealth (pushing the Model Minority myth by citing highest average income while ignoring how many Asians live in abject poverty⁷) would partake in a massive redistribution of wealth to support Black and Brown communities.

I didn’t know any other Asian activists who led activist training on Saturday mornings to shamelessly promote themselves, who came home to their oppressor’s loving arms every day, or who recited fantasy tales and insisted they were true. What are these people…?

Activism is not some side gig. It’s not an opportunity to virtue-signal for your white friends, nor is it a platform to spread lies. I saw true activism with my own eyes at the Koreatown protest, where anyone could feel the collective energy of a people resisting oppression and fighting for change. Their dedication is so passionate because these issues endanger their homes, their families, and their livelihoods. Until demands to recognize these essential rights are met, activism is nothing but a lifestyle.

When I saw those “activists” leverage activism to promote their ulterior motives, I started to question my own. Why am I here?

I am not sure what the right answer is, or if there even should be a right answer. But as Socrates said, “there is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance”. To do nothing with the knowledge I gained would be a victory for ignorance, and thus evil.

But it is very difficult to accomplish anything in Asian activism, even when armed with the necessary knowledge. One fellow participant literally argued with me that Asian American men outmarry more than Asian American women, some bogus or at best very outdated statistic⁸ he apparently learned in his multi-ethnic studies class.  Some other guy, a pre-law student, defended Justice Lewis F. Powell for his supposed “good intentions” towards Asians, despite the justice’s lone opinion on the Bakke case shifting the justification for Affirmative Action from remedying societal discrimination to the appearance of “diversity”, which has since harmed Asian applicants.⁹

During a dinner, the SAT program leaders designated four tables for caucuses. Each table would host a topic for conversation, these four topics being “Anti-blackness in the Asian community”, “Asian male privilege”, “East Asian privilege”, and “Mental Health Awareness”. I sat there kind of dumbfounded as the 25 or so aspiring Asian activists collectively began to criticize Asians for xyz reasons over dinner, which by the way was catering from some horrific “Asian fusion” abomination of bibimbap, an embarrassment to one of my favorite Korean dishes. After literally and figuratively taking a deep breath, I moved over to the table devoted to discussing “Asian male privilege”, an already festering conversation condemning Asian American men’s rampant “misogyny and patriarchy”, to throw in my two cents. Put simply, I loaded my knowledge cannons and fired away. In the end, only one person remained: a fellow Asian man named Anthony, who after initially showing signs of cognitive dissonance started to finally grapple with the truth of Asian male oppression. For everyone else, there was no such process. What should have been an opportunity to question the prevailing narrative became a race to run away from the truth. Anthony and I were ostracized to the “losers table” for the remainder of the program.

My internship at the K.W. Lee Center, which was more pleasant than SAT, inspired me to apply for a position at the Korean American Coalition (KAC). At the time, I assumed that Korean American activism was more praxis-oriented and thus superior to the disappointment that is the rest of Asian American activism. The Korean activists I met did not talk endlessly about checking our mythical privilege and apparently inherent anti-blackness; instead, they took to the streets and rallied with the people against the undemocratic building of a homeless shelter. Additionally, I was familiar with KAC’s role in protesting the shelter¹⁰ as well as their work to prevent more than half of Koreatown becoming subdivided into Little Bangladesh.¹¹ Surely this had to be one of the “good” Asian activist organizations!

The interview, which I had with the KAC executive director himself, was terrible beyond imagination. As most people are raised to believe, I thought job interviews were an opportunity for employers to determine if someone would be a good fit as an employee, not an occasion to bully and insult potential candidates. When our interview moved on from sharing formalities to discussing racial issues, the director flat out denied there ever was an ethnic cleansing of Asian Americans¹², calling me “extreme” for asserting well documented¹³ and widely accepted¹⁴ historical facts. In addition, my perfectly justifiable idea of punishing racists through social ostracization was shut down because empty words¹⁵ are more “strategic” (AKA least inflammatory to the status quo).

You can read more details as well as the angry letter I sent him in the following Twitter thread:

Looking back now, I am not sure if he was simply dim-witted and ignorant or deliberately malicious. In my opinion, these are two sides of the same coin.

My 6-month foray into Asian American activism is best encapsulated by my conversation with that guy at Summer Activist Training who tried to argue that Asian men statistically outmarry more than Asian women. He literally tried to refute empirical data from the Pew Research Center.¹⁶

How is this any different than reciting “two plus two equals five”? Am I living in some Orwellian dystopia?


46 years ago, “Racist Love” declared that “the best self-contempt to condition into the minority has its sources seemingly within the minority group itself. The vehicles of this illusion are education and the publishing establishment”. Both this article and reputable scholars have exposed the illusory “Facade of Leadership”¹⁷ which has already instilled self-hate into the minds of many young Asian Americans.

In order for true Asian American activism to flourish today, the only logical option is to abandon the simplistic frameworks that cultivate a false consciousness and instead rebuild our pool of knowledge. A new Asian American movement must pursue actionable solutions based on history, facts, and evidence-based politics.



Guest writer Joo Hyun is a Korean American college student. He enjoys playing the piano. You can follow him on Twitter @hyuneeah.