RadioLab to Eng Yang: "I know better than you what really happened to your body."
Some commenters to Kalia Yang: "I know better than you what really happened to your body."
SuJin you clearly missed the mark on this one, the same way Robert Krulwich missed the mark with his interview.
Juxtaposing the Radiolab incident and the miscarriage was a way for her to show how 2 very difficult truths occurred (the death of her child, and the mistreatment and injustice with which Robert and Radiolab treated Uncle Eng and Kao Kalia Yang), and how she handled them accordingly.
I found this blog to be spot on about why Kao Kalia Yang's response mentioned her miscarriage.
You'd do well to read between the lines next time instead of taking everything at face value, because that's what Radiolab seems to expect of its viewers--to never challenge anything they (Radiolab) offer but to simply accept it all as truth.
White journalists are such fucking scum.
It's remarkable that you're fourth generation on your mom's side, and still grew up with the same paradigms. Did your dad set the tone or were they pretty united, I wonder?
Thanks for writing in, and yes, take care of yourself.
I enjoyed your article, but this paragraph needs revision:
"Takano’s District is based in San Bernardino County in Southern California. It is a new district that was created after California redrew districts following the 2010 census. The old district is currently represented by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), who is retiring. The new 41st district has a 23.9-percentage-point advantage for Democrats over Republicans based on registered voters."
The seat is entirely within Riverside County. While Mr. Lewis currently represents the 41st District, the new 41st is mainly territory represented by Reps. Ken Calvert and Mary Bono Mack.
In addition, the registration advantage for Democrats is much smaller than 23.9 points. Please see www.voteinfo.net for more accurate registration information.
I think you are on to something. I am Chinese. My mom is 3rd generation from the SF Bay Area, and my dad is from Macau. I suffer(ed?) from depression and social anxiety, and I often felt an implicit (and sometimes explicit) pressure to achieve what my parents wanted for me academically and professionally. This pressure to accomplish along the established route contributed to my tendency to obey nearly everyone who told me what to do and my learned inability to think for myself and stand up for myself. "Just listen to your teachers and do well in school. Don't get in trouble," was what I learned all the way up to college. It is hard to learn resilience when your entire childhood mantra was to obey and avoid conflict. It is hard to be happy and thrive when you don't really know how to take pride in yourself for yourself and only know how to take pride in your academic, extracurricular, and professional accomplishments.
Perhaps my depression and social anxiety are primarily caused by genetics, but I suspect that the culture I grew up in also aggravated my mental illness.
My advice to anyone with depression: Treat your depression. Most people with depression can be cured, but 80% of depressed people don't get effective treatment. Know yourself and love yourself. Think positively about yourself and your life. Rest well, eat well, drink well, exercise well. Keep your stressors to a minimum.
Imagine that you were admitted to your top choice college but then your admission was revoked and given to someone else of equal or lower qualification because the college thought that it had enough people of your race(s). Would you still support holistic college admissions?
It's easy for a white person to only use one angle of approach (science) to resolve the "Yellow Rain" debate. A Hmong person may give testimony to what was witness as well as digest reasonable evidence disputing their claims in a well-informed manner. A person of color has more advantages in that they are able to find validity in both truths without discrediting the other--mainly because they have the cognizant ability to share those experiences and see the possibility of scientific discoveries that may add or subtract to the story. Storytelling has long been frowned upon as a source of truth because of the lack of records, experiments, or evidence to prove accountability. However, what is scientific knowledge without the act of storytelling? Many personal accounts lead to the discovery of new knowledge--whether it disputes it or gives credence to it. As a second generation Hmong individual, I had no prior knowledge pertaining to the "Yellow Rain" debate; which, I think gives me an advantage to see validity on both sides. Although, I must admit that I am entangled with emotions over the issue; it does not cloud my judgement in gleaning some significance of Radio Lab's portrayal and production of Kalia Yang and Uncle Eng's narrative. Keep in mind that your truth may not be my truth, and my truth may not be yours. However, would it not be more wholesome and complete were we to include all perspectives on such a controversial topic? I think the possibilities would open doors to a person who is able to use science and empirical evidence as modes of discovering different truths; and then using those different truths to understand the implications surrounding the debate. It does not matter who is right or wrong in the situation, but how the discovery process of handled. Kalia Yang was merely sharing Uncle Eng's experiences as he experienced it and in return, discovered that there are reports that it may have been "bee poop." However, Uncle Eng's side of the story--whether true or not--has enriched my life in ways that science is not able to. Had I not heard about it, I would not have known that "Yellow rain" existed as a part of the Hmong experience in the war and that it could either be a chemical warfare or "bee poop." Either way you look at it, it still resorts back to the fact that people died from it. So, let's share our opinions, perspectives, and factual beliefs--but let's not disrespect, dismiss, and discredit either argument. I don't see Kalia Yang refuting the "bee poop" theory. I simply see her responding to a need of adding another important element to the debate. My interest is not surrounding the "Yellow rain" debate. Rather, I'm more concerned now with how Radio Lab handled the production of this segment. There's a time and place for interrogation and humiliation and then there's a place where we share our knowledge in order to understand each other--both are ways to enrich and inform ourselves in more broadly and full developed ways .
"Western practitioners appropriate what they want and need from Asian religious traditions. While [their Western] proponents might eschew any formal connections to an established faith [such as Hinduism ... ] they certainly enjoy the thin veneer of Asian-ness that coats the movement [...] Ultimately, the Oriental Monk or guru is seen as a remnant of a dying (or dead) civilization: the last of his kind. Those in the West [...] see themselves as the only ones who are able to appreciate the Monk’s ancient wisdom and as the tradition’s appointed heirs. Asians and Asians American certainly are not fit to play a prominent role."
Ms. Jane must not be Desi. Otherwise she would know that the goras appropriating desi culture are all about desis participating but the desis keep a distance because they don't want to mix too closely with what they consider "mlecchas".
"The process is ultimately intended to supplant Indians, even in areas of their own customs and spirituality. In the end, non-Indians will have complete power to define what is and is not Indian, even for Indians. When this happens, the last vestiges of real Indian society and Indian rights will disappear. Non-Indians will then "own" our heritage and ideas as thoroughly as they now claim to own our land and resources."
How do these Indians (feathers) feel about the other Indians (dots) coming over here and claiming their land and resources?
It's a "universal experience" in the life of a racial minority, if you talk about the ways racism has directly impacted your life, that you will invariably be accused by progressive, well-intentioned white liberals of bringing up the race card.
They will then proceed, with the best of intentions, to enlighten you on what racism truly is and how it has truly impacted your life (all things that they are, of course, infinitely more qualified to judge than you are). They will tell you that what you have experienced could not possibly be what you call it. They will go on to say that, instead of poisoning rational discourse by such crude, irrational attacks, you should instead take a moment to consider just how lucky you are to be getting any attention at all, and be grateful for it."
You really jumped the shark on this one. Why do you presume to know his experience or intent better than him?
Keep in mind your posts have been written on the basis of how could you people understand what we went through?
I am ashamed that Radiolab would conveniently edit out your and your uncle's perspective. I am upset that this radio program does not acknowledge their preferred vantage point (whether you want to view it racially or not), even upon amending the podcast.
I have listened to a few other Radiolab episodes prior to finding your post. My impression was that there is a single emotional note they like to strike, and that -- through, frankly, unnecessarily confusing editing and sonic overlap -- they complicate simple facts (e.g., a story earlier this summer about genetic mutations).
In this case, they simplify a multitude of Hmong perspectives -- still pained -- in favor of an indifferent, sterile shrug.
This is a very good point! Quite a peculiar logic seems to rule in these situations -- that until outsiders privileged by racial hierarchies (i.e., people who've never directly experienced racism) come to a enlightened consensus that what we experience is, actually, racism, we cannot be so insistent on calling it such, and doing so might even make us the real racists.
People who believe this are probably also die-hard fans of Catch-22.
After reading and considering your reaction to my previous comment, I want to apologize for its exceeding glibness.
It wasn't my intention to make you feel uncomfortable or dismissed? And looking back, I agree that my tone was oddly dismissive, which isn't acceptable, especially when talking to those who seem unused to their views being forcefully challenged.
On reflection, I think that the crux of our disagreement lies in the fact that you have a definition of empirical evidence that contradicts the standard definition? ("In scientific use the term empirical refers to the gathering of data using only evidence that is observable by the senses or in some cases using calibrated scientific instruments.") The Hmong directly observed the effects of chemical weapons. "Uncle Eng" was tasked with collecting the observations of the Hmong by the government of Thailand -- in other words, officially tasked with gathering this empirical evidence. In the interview, "Uncle Eng" stated: "I saw with my own eyes bee pollen on the leaves eating through holes. With my own eyes I saw pollen that could kill grass, could kill leaves, could kill trees."
Yet instead of arguing (a) this particular sort of empirical evidence is unreliable, vague, or somehow biased, (b) it is insufficient to support the theory of chemical weapons use, or (c) it is directly contradicted by overwhelming empirical evidence that suggests otherwise -- instead of arguing along these lines (I would've disagreed with you, but would've seen where you were coming from), you categorically stated that there was "no emperical evidence for this assertion". It was a concept of empiricism different from what I was taught by my parents (both are scientists with PhDs from Western universities, since this seems important in your context) and at my (Western) university (one of my degrees is in statistics), different from any I've read about. And yet you position your view of "empericism" and "authentic data" as the unarguable standard? Trying to reconcile this caused an unfortunate moment of cognitive dissonance in my mind (a moment that hasn't ended, even more unfortunately).
You did this while positioning yourself as the defender of Western science and empiricism, and furthermore compared thousands of direct observations of the effects of chemical weapons, thousands of recorded data points, with belief in God, UFO sightings, fundamentalist Islam, eugenics, and young-earth creationism? This exacerbated my sense of cognitive dissonance!
You also contrasted Western academic canon with eugenicism, when the science of eugenics developed out of Western academic canon, and in the first half of the 20th century, was considered part of Western academic canon, with its most enthusiastic proponents being mainstream Western scientists and the well-educated Western elite (Francis Galton, Ernst Haeckel, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes, Linus Pauling, Herbert Spencer, John D. Rockefeller, I could keep going on all day)? Needless to say, by this time I had no idea what to make of your context, and forcefully questioned it, because I care deeply about getting these facts right.
So, yes, based on these things, I suspected you of, at the least being farcical, and at the worst being a troll. I genuinely and regretfully apologize if you were hurt by my dismissive tone, and my unfortunate use of the word "ridiculous" (you are completely right, what is and isn't ridiculous depends on the context, and yours is completely different). It was not my intention to offend you in any way; my intention was to question and explore, and get to the facts of the matter. But looking back, I admit that I was insensitive, and should have listened harder.
But that said, if I did inadvertently offend you -- engaging further would probably only lead to you being more so, because you seem to keep saying things that are factually wrong, and then insist that they aren't when looked at from your context, which is unlike any I've ever come across, including the mainstream Western academic context that I often critique for its bias, and that you position yourself in. I don't know what to make of it?
So I'm going to bow out of this discussion, and again, apologize for any negative feelings I might've inadvertently caused by being insensitively glib. And in the future, I'll try and present facts more gently and with more consideration.
And why was your stillborn important to your story? Why would you even include that? Sympathy card? To me it invalidated your whole article, and instead of reading it as an event of racism that happened against you, it became woe is me.
is the sheer number of people who have had zero interest in hyphen or the issues it covers up to now, who have nevertheless felt compelled to comment solely on this article. Specfically, to let Kalia and the rest of the asian community whose space this is know that its bad, wrong, and somehow generally mean for them to bring up racism as an issue.
Just because some of these radiolab fans feel discomfort with racism being brought up here? Doesnt mean racism doesnt actually exist in this situation. People of color have to deal with racism in every aspect of their lives, whether outsiders acknowledge it or not.
It's a "universal experience" in the life of a racial minority, if you talk about the ways racism has directly impacted your life, that you will invariably be accused by progressive, well-intentioned white liberals of bringing up the race card.
They will then proceed, with the best of intentions, to enlighten you on what racism truly is and how it has truly impacted your life (all things that they are, of course, infinitely more qualified to judge than you are). They will tell you that what you have experienced could not possibly be what you call it. They will go on to say that, instead of poisoning rational discourse by such crude, irrational attacks, you should instead take a moment to consider just how lucky you are to be getting any attention at all, and be grateful for it.
It is a universal experience in the life of a journalist, that if you write about race, you will be accused of racism. My own experience as a reporter writing about an Asian-American youth conference in Seattle 10 years ago. I interviewed five or six children, and then wrote the following 12-inch article (all the editor would allow).
The next day the kids wrote me to tell me I was racist for my failure to include all the other stuff they told me.
While I think it was a mismatch for a generally cheerful show like Radiolab to take on such an emotional and controversial topic, this is not racism. Having an interview that doesn't go the way you want it is not racism.
You should also consider the usual journalist's alternative to dealing with something complex and controversial, which is to walk away from it and do an easier, simpler and cheaper story. Here, the story of the Hmong is mentioned, not as the center of the story, and can lead a listener to more research.
Hi anon! Thanks for the comment. You bring up something I had trouble reconciling, too -- how Jad Abumrad, with the background he had, participated in a podcast like that. I keep thinking that he should have known better -- known what it feels like to have your words, and that of people you love, automatically discounted because they don't speak English, or because they have an accent, and don't look American. What Robert Krulwich did to Kao Kalia Yang and Eng Yang I feel is a classic case of white privilege, as well as the final edited product, and how could Jad Abumrad, who wasn't, as you pointed out, white, have had a part in it?
But then again, I also think that Dinesh D'Souza and Fareed Zakaria and Bobby Jindal should know better than to do or say, well, pretty much everything they do or say. And what it ultimately comes back to, for me, is that though Obama is a black president, I can't say that there is no racism in this country. Most of our legislators are still white men; most of his cabinet is still white men; most of those in power are still white men. And the same is true with Radiolab. Whatever role Jad Abumrad might play it the show, according to the articles I've come across, it is quite backwards in its lack of diversity.
However, he could have displayed the same lack of balance had he been talking to people from the remote, isolated backwaters of Appalachia with no formal education.
Yes, he could have, and I would've attributed that to classism. I'm not sure how much of Krulwich's behavior was due to racism and how much was due to classism? But to say that it's all classism is to ignore how Radiolab framed the show -- how from the beginning they portrayed practically the entirety of Southeast Asia as the boonies, how they took pains to do the same to Eng Yang, whom the Thai government had considered educated and literate enough to serve as their official recorder of what was happening, how they portrayed and treated Kao Kalia Yang. To argue that Krulwich was blinded by his faith in education is to dismiss the quite substantial education and expertise both the Yangs had.
I'm just not sure that Krulwich's whiteness is as much to blame as his blind faith in the educated class' ability to discern truth.
And this is where we disagree, for I think his white privilege is inextricably tied to this blind faith. It's not just the educated classes' ability to discern truth that he has blind faith in, for I doubt he, or Radiolab, would be so blind in believing a professor from Laos or Vietnam or Thailand, the godsforsaken jungle backwaters of the world! (He obviously had no respect for the position Eng Yang held with the Thai government, for one.) It's not just coincidence that it is the words of white Americans that are taken as gospel truth.
First let me say that I appreciate and agree with almost everything you say in the original post. I think Krulwich was bullying, arrogant, and misguided in his assumptions and questioning, and I get the impression that they aired just enough of the interview to make themselves look brave for looking bad on air, but not enough to make the whole debacle irredeemable. Hence, we got the silly, hollow handwringing as a postscript.
I think it's also relevant, however, that the show is co-hosted by a Lebanese-American whose cultural heritage contains its fair share of horror and bloodshed (although I wouldn't venture to assume how much of a personal/familial connection Jad Abumrad has to any of that). Still, while he certainly is not the guilty party here, it's a little facile to dismiss "the hosts" as beholden to their white privilege.
I'm not arguing here that America-centrism had nothing to do with Krulwich's assumptions, or the way that the story was framed; it clearly played a part. I'm arguing that "journalistic" tunnel vision and a misguided elitism may be more to blame than racism for his treatment of Kalia and Mr. Eng. He felt the need to affirm his own hypotheses (or those of Ivy League scientists) as "truth" and ended up being abusive and dismissive of anything that complicated his narrative. However, he could have displayed the same lack of balance had he been talking to people from the remote, isolated backwaters of Appalachia with no formal education. Kalia and Mr. Eng were certainly poorly served by a privileged world view, I'm just not sure that Krulwich's whiteness is as much to blame as his blind faith in the educated class' ability to discern truth.
Eugenics is a perfectly apt example within the context of my argument because it was an utterly non-imperical view that merely clothed bigotry with the trappings of scientific parlance and method. Just as young-earth creationists write peer-reviewed papers in attempt to further a plainly non-scientific view, eugenicists of the early 20th century created a "scientific" discipline that had literally no authentic data to confirm its veracity. The point being that you can dress anything and everything in this world as somehow being confirmed by science, but if the data isn't there, well then that's the end of the story.
So yes, there is something more pernicious and duplicitous on display when scientific parlance is used to justify the old "I believe it is so it must be so" way of engaging with the world. But aside from intent, how is this different from saying "I saw yellow rain so therefore yellow rain exists?"
In closing, I need a word for the following phenomenon: you misunderstand my point, and your first reaction is to deride said point as being "ridiculous" even though you wholly misunderstood the point in the first place. I just ask because if that word exists, it would have been useful for describing Kirti Kamboj response.
Others have already responded to some of your points. I would add two things.
(1) It is telling that so many people, like you, like Radiolab, keep trying to frame this as a conflict between empiricism/logic/science and indigenous backwardness/emotion. And in your case, what I find particularly ironic is that, to drive your point home, one of the things you are contrasting (contrasting!) this empiricism based on "western, academic canon" against is eugenics.
(2) It is similarly telling that so many people, like you, like Radiolab, seek to so absolutely reject Kao Kalia Yang's account. She presents her side of the story, and she is a senseless, hysterical, selfishly short-sighted woman. You, and Krulwich, and so many others, dismiss her and her perspective sweepingly on these grounds (and in your case, claiming she made a purely ad-hominem attack while casting her as hysteria-driven was, again, a particularly ironic touch), and you are rational, logical, sensible men of science, and to even suggest otherwise could very well permit her and people like her to cause, hm, exactly what does it cause in your perspective? The downfall of Western civilization as we know it, leaving the superstitious natives and dangerous fundamentalists and eugenicists (sorry, but this will never stop being utterly ridiculous) to claim the field?
And you wish you could convey the damage that is done in these cases?
Perhaps, just perhaps, you should instead try and listen to exactly what is being said, and consider why it is being said? Perhaps, just perhaps, you should instead try and consider exactly what it is that makes it so easy for you and others to so sweepingly dismiss it?
But then again, this is probably a too ridiculous and far-left ideological notion to be given any credence, especially since no empirical, rational person wants to have the downfall of Western civilization and eugenics on their conscience.
i have a radar for the typical asian fetish guy, you really have to ask yourself, "is this guy just into me because im asian" and you can usually tell right away, like is he really into anime and stuff? does he know more about your culture than you? haha but at the same time i also like the attention i get from it, tons of guys ask me for my pictures online, and i often oblige. http://fiverr.com/soupstock/send-you-20-cutesexy-self-taken-photos
Let me begin by saying that I believe that there is a clear and important relationship between racism and the production and handling of the RadioLab “Yellow Rain” segment. I’ll add that if you don’t believe the same, then I have no pretensions of convincing you otherwise. We simply disagree over the definition of racism. However, if you are undecided, then I hope that my perspective will prove persuasive.
I understand racism as “a system of advantage based on race.” In the US, that advantage is accorded to people who have come to be known as white. We can even measure the extent of the advantage by studying certain social metrics: life expectancy, educational attainment, net worth, rates of incarceration, etc. In other words, we can measure racism. Again, we may disagree over the definition, but at least you now know why I believe that racism is a system.
If racism is a system, then there are elements that operate within it. One way to think about these elements is as “racial projects.” Racial projects redistribute resources along racial lines. They can be as basic as laughing at a racist joke or as large and complex as the war in Vietnam. The “Yellow Rain” segment falls somewhere in between. Some racial projects become especially powerful when they are authorized within social institutions such as, well, the mass media.
The “Yellow Rain” segment is a racial project that maintains the status quo of the system of racism. It redistributed resources along racial lines. Not many people can honestly say that the Yangs occupied the locus of prestige and authority in the segment. RadioLab minimized Eng Yang’s perspective and the perspectives of the Hmong affected by chemical warfare. It did nothing to dismantle the negative racial stereotypes of Southeast Asians in general. The inclusion of casual talk of “backwater” tribes and the exclusion of Eng Yang’s expertise (smaller racial projects themselves) may have even strengthened the stereotypes.
If we can agree that the “Yellow Rain” segment did nothing to change negative racial stereotypes in our society, then perhaps we can agree that it did nothing to interrupt the system of racism. Thus I think it is fair to call the segment racist—but only if we have the same definition of racism. However, doing so may not be very productive. This is because the adjective “racist” has a hard time shaking its connotation of hate even though all it is doing is describing a particular kind of racial project, one that maintains or strengthens the system of racism. Kalia Yang’s essay and all of the supportive comments on it are also racial projects but of a different kind. What is asking RadioLab for equal time if not asking for the redistribution of resources along racial lines?
Yang's side includes empiricism, too. See: Yang's mention of published research that was not considered in the Radiolab piece, especially that by Dr. Mirocha. Here's a hit of empiricism for you: there is no actual conclusion as to where Yellow Rain came from. There is evidence missing and, as of yet, no certainty about how Yellow Rain was produced. Analysis of raw, --empirical-- data has been contested. Just take a look at the Wikipedia article on Yellow Rain. It chronicles the debate and shows you just how many holes there are in the data. Yang's point is that the Hmong side of the data was ignored, glossed over, handled dismissively. It's not that the white U.S. folks have the empirical data vs. the Hmong with their personal experience.
And, by the way, personal experience actually can count as empirical data. Empirical data actually means information acquired by observation using any of the 5 senses, which is what Eng Yang provided the Radiolab interviewers with.