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When Asian women are objectified and dehumanized, this reinforces the idea that Asian women lack agency.

By Linh Cao Worldbuilding is tricky. Creators have to spend hours researching before they can even begin writing. And once they start writing, they might run into a obstacle that can only be addressed via more research. After the story is written—what then? The real world isn’t stagnant. The readers grow as people. One would assume the author does so as well.  But once stories are written, they’re done. It’s been told and you can’t take it back once it’s out there in the world, rattling around in the global conscious. And any attempt to make changes to it will often be met with scrutiny. When it was announced that Claudia Kim was cast as Nagini—Voldemort’s snake in human form—in the upcoming “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”, people of color worldwide understood right away what the implications would be. Some supported the casting, on the tail of “Crazy Rich Asians” and the Asian American representation movement, saying that “all representation is good representation.” But what if that representation meant she would be a cursed, possessed object for wizard Hitler? Up until this creation (and I truly do believe JKR decided this recently), Nagini was the pet snake and a horcrux to Voldemort. Neville Longbottom ultimately beheads her, which is seen as a satisfying victory for those who oppose the Dark Lord. Some supporters of the casting think we’re angry and disappointed because a woman of color is cast a villain. No. We’re angry and disappointed for two reasons.
    1. No care was taken to understand the ramifications of casting a woman of color as a white man’s pet.
  1. The lack of research and thought put into Nagini’s character and her curse.
To understand the first reason, readers must understand how power and privilege work and how Nagini’s casting fits into the current real world we live in. Asian women are hypersexualized, objectified, and seen as either meek and quiet or as dangerous “dragon lady” types. People view us in this regard because of stereotypes perpetuated by white media, and because of where we sit at the intersection of Asian and woman. To cast Voldemort’s pet turned horcrux as an Asian woman plays into many of these stereotypes. She’s literally objectified by being turned into a man’s physical possession.  

State-sponsored Buddhism is not peaceful or meditative. It is currently waging genocide against hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are effectively stateless.

Mainstream media outlets have finally begun to pay attention to (i.e. cover and write about in any significant way) the horrific, state-sponsored genocide being waged against a Muslim minority population in Myanmar called the Rohingya.

The persecution of the Rohingya by the Burmese government has been going on for many decades (at least since the 1970’s) in the form of state-sponsored discrimination: although they have been living in the western region of present-day Myanmar since at least the 15th century — historians believe that the Rohingya are modern-day descendants of former Arab traders in southeast Asia — Rohingya Muslims, who together make up about 2% of Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist population, have been denied voting rights, Burmese citizenship, higher education, as well as free movement across borders. The Rohingya have effectively been living under apartheid.

The Rohingya are not the only population of Muslim minorities that suffer persecution at the hands of state-sponsored terrorism across the Asian continent. The Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang, a province in far western China bordering Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, have also suffered persecution by the state and by the majority Han ethnic group in China.


Films like “Aladdin” do not accidentally harm us, they do so with intention so that they may continue to define our ways of life for us.

By Lily Bolourian I will be the first to admit that I grew up obsessively watching Disney princess movies for years. I had pencil pouches, backpacks, dolls designed with princess-everything.  For Halloween, I have gone all-out dressing up as Snow White, Belle, and Jasmine. At 26-years-old, I am still amused by the songs, animations, dresses, and escape from reality that those movies provided. When Disney announced the plans for a live-action “Aladdin” film, my stomach dropped as I realized that every single orientalist stereotype that was born of that movie would now come full circle. For people of color the fear of erasure, whitewashing and racism is based on the experience of having it happen over and over. Disney’s “Aladdin”, amazingly, manages to cast a net on two different continents and about a dozen countries and squeezes all of our unique cultures into one “exotic” box. Indeed, riddled throughout the movie are elements of Indian, Persian, and Arab culture. 

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