New Romantix

Watching Gook

May 04, 2017

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Maybe I’m too young to reach the same conclusion Hilton Als did after viewing Moonlight for the first time and before beginning his essay in the New Yorker with the words, “Did I ever imagine, during my anxious, closeted childhood, that I’d live long enough...?” but I did. I skipped a formal on Monday and slipped on the T to Davis. Then I watched a movie entitled Gook. I was stunned when it finished because I, too, had never thought I’d ever see this film. A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I had viewed Moonlight as an end because I could never imagine its yellow equivalent, a film based on “yellow beauty, precision, and rhythm.” Oh, but it’s no longer the end. It’s a beginning, and God, what a beginning we have.

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Beyond Color

April 21, 2017

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In middle school, the summer before eighth grade, a pair of black kids, rumored fresh from Newark, moved to the purple house across the street, along with their cop mother, single uncle, and more. I didn’t talk to them, since I was under house arrest until I redeemed myself from failing summer school algebra II (no, it didn’t matter that I didn’t know algebra I yet, money was paid, mistakes were made, and our real estate agent’s son already knew calculus) but when July got too sticky, I’d watch them through the living room window. They played football on the street, while their uncle sat on the step smoking. When school started, they ripped the place up in a similar way. When an Asian playing Ninja took out his air gun and shot, one of them told him he was doing it wrong, showed him the right way, and said he knew because his mom was a cop. We got off at the same bus stop and walked on opposite sides of the streets. We didn’t talk, but we were friendly. They once chased down a dog my sister was running away from while I laughed in the corner. Then my family moved two blocks away and I never saw them again, except occasionally at school. There were so few black kids in my hometown that they stood as concepts formed by media, history books, and music, more than real people, especially to the Asian kids, who collectively ate, did calculus, debated Ravel vs. Debussy, and sucked up to biology teachers, separate from even the white kids.

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​Capitalist at Its Finest

April 07, 2017

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Philanthrocapitalism is the new buzz word on campus. It makes sense, as when presented with the options of either getting rich or being a good person arise, it’s difficult not to answer, uh, both. After the term was coined in 2006 by The Economist as the effort to make philanthropy look more like for-profit capital markets, some rising stars in the field were Bill Gates, who made his own charitable foundation tackling problems with global health, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, who promised to donate 99% of his profits from Facebook to charity and who has already donated millions of dollars to the Newark public school system. They’re not old leaders conquering new regimes; they’re innovators reshaping how the public sector works, rectifying the inefficiencies that really plague how well-intentioned, but antiquated, social programs work. They are social investors, venture philanthropists, and good maximizers—the real superstars. Philanthrocapitalism is a fancy, novel, academic way for the bourgeoisie to be good too. And don’t we all have the right, the freedom, to be good, the way we want to be, regardless of what we want to do? I didn’t think so either.

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Disney’s New Cool Girl Aesthetic

March 24, 2017

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Andi Mack, the new serialized Asian-American TV show, conceptualized by the white woman behind “Lizzy McGuire”, is airing on Disney Channel. That sentence sat strange with me too. The premise: you’re thirteen and waiting for your first period. You’re in love with eighth-grade Jonah Beck from the ultimate Frisbee team. Your shack is detached from your house. You have a yellow mom and a white dad. You bought an electric bicycle behind your mom’s back, but your very old, very cool sister named Bex has a motorcycle. Then Bex tells you she’s actually your mom. Which means your mom is actually your grandma. Which means America’s new teen mother is yellow, suburban, and rich.

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​On the Politics of Hate

March 03, 2017

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On the 1 Bus to Roxbury a man sat next to me and claimed to be a real live Panther. He placed his feet in the middle of the aisle, cold. I came from Alabama, he said. Power to the people, he said. I’m a real live Panther, he said. He picked a fight with the white boy behind me. The bus driver got up. The man resisted. His side sifted close then far from mine. I looked for sympathy like a wallet, lost. When I was thirteen I walked through a furniture store in Flushing with my best friend, who was a poet, and told her I’d decorate my college room like this, glossy. My fingers passed through red lamps. When we got out, she told me she saw a man talking to himself in the Au Bon Pain across the street. Later, she wrote three poems on him. She remembers him as I do, distant. When we passed through this Christmas we passed by beggars and old men with nonchalance, grace. Do you write poems about strangers anymore? I asked. We walked on, beat, because it was no longer fashionable to love strangers, to imagine their lives with care. The world had expanded since we were children, and we deemed outsiders useless, a survival tactic.

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