Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cultural/Racial Confusion

Imagine my surprise when I got my ABA Journal in the mail. There she is, the newest Supreme Court Justice, the first Hispanic justice, the third female justice appointed to the Court. There she is, framed by a pastiche of Asian imagery, with the word Kabuki leaping out at me. Kabuki theater -- stylized Japanese dance/drama, notable for white-face makeup. Sheesh. Then-Senator Joe Biden claimed the John Roberts confirmation hearing was a kabuki dance, but I didn't see anyone pose Justice Roberts as an Asian caricature.

And this on top of the National Review cover of Sotomayor as Buddha. What? There aren't any images of wise Latinas to make fun of, so you have to expropriate an Asian image? Even when the person you're mocking isn't Asian?!

Get a clue. Justice Sonya Sotomayor is NOT Asian. What is it about her that makes magazine-cover designers think Asian? And then we can't even decide what variety of Asian we're mis-identifying her as. Kabuki? Japanese. Buddha? Indian/Chinese. No matter, she is NOT Asian!

Seems like Frank Wu got it right in his book, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, once we move off the black/white dichotomy we are clueless about race.


Kaitlin said...

you make a very valid point! thanks for making us think :-)

Wendy said...

btw--so recommend Wu's book.

Michele said...

I thought the very same thing when the ABA Journal came across my desk,...what the heck??? Frankly I was too snowed under to read it yet.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know what "kabuki confirmation" actually means?

Jae Ran said...

Wow, that's so disturbing on so many levels!