My friends. This post. Please read it – and … I don’t usually say this, but please share it. Hudson Lin is a first time guest at ALBTALBS, and (definitely) hopefully will be willing to guest again. I have nothing to say other than … please read and share.
Rambling Treatise on Identity, Diversity, and Why I Write East Asian Characters
By Hudson Lin
I am Canadian. I am Taiwanese. I am Chinese. That’s typically the order in which I would identify myself, but that can change depending on the situation. Sometimes I’m all of them, sometimes I’m a particular combination of two to the exclusion of the third. It’s always complicated and never easy to explain.
My racial and cultural identity is something I’ve wrestled with my entire life, but it had never inserted itself into my writing. All the stories floating around in my head were about white people and I never thought there was anything wrong with that.
Imagine my surprise when I stumbled my way into the writing community and realized that diversity was a thing, and not only a thing but something that was being championed. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon stories with characters who looked like me, written by authors who looked like me. Huh. That’s new.
Until recently, 100% of the romances I read were about white people, written by white people. I didn’t know romances existed that featured people of color, or that there were authors of color writing them. I didn’t know that was allowed. Continue reading →
Hello friends!!! I’m thrilled to introduce another first time guest to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet. Ines Bautista-Yao was kind enough to respond to my request for guest posts for APAHM!I know that “#ownvoices” is the “trendy thing” right now but … it’s not a trend – it’s life, and I’m so pleased we’re able to continue celebrating SHM months!
Filipino Characters in Filipino Settings
By Ines Bautista-Yao
Growing up, my favorite books were by authors Enid Blyton, Carolyn Keene, Jahnna N. Malcolm, and Sheri Cobb South. I would lose myself in the adventures, heartaches, and triumphs of the characters. That was easy. Emotions, no matter where in the world you belonged, were universal. What wasn’t so easy was trying to imagine what it would be like to see what the characters saw, and to interact with people who had blue or even green eyes, and flaming red or flaxen hair. Funnily enough, my classmates and I didn’t know what flax was, but when we read “flaxen hair” in a book, we all knew it meant blonde. So whenever my classmates and I would write stories or imagine characters, they would more often than not have blue eyes and that so-called flaxen hair. It had gotten to a point where I would stay after a movie was over so I could read the credits and file away the last names in my mind. I didn’t know enough American last names for my characters, and movie credits were a good source of information.
It had never crossed my mind to write a story about a little Filipino girl like me. Continue reading →
Hi friends! Do you remember the first 2018 APAHM post we had? Ekaterine Xia was our guest and I talked about how I’d messed up? So I found the emails from 2014 – she agreed to let me use the first post as a comparison, since she piggybacked off of it to write the May 5th one! (Are you confused yet?) In 2014 she said she’d tell me which book covers she wanted me to use … but that didn’t happen so I’m going with my picks. 😀 The most important thing though, is of course the post. Enjoy! N.B. I came up with the ~title. Because I think it’s accurate.
The Flatness of [Western] Romance
So it all started when Limecello tweeted with:
New quest! Any African American, Asian American, Hispanic, or Native American romance readers around? 😀
So I responded with: “Chinese person who reads romance over here. …I think I qualify as As-A?”
The thing is, it isn’t that easy. It’s the short answer.
The long answer is that I’m a third-culture-kid, aka global nomad, aka syncretic mutt of a first-gen fresh off the boat kind-of Asian American.
I was born in Taiwan, but we moved to the US when I was two. So technically Mandarin Chinese is my first language, but not by much. I grew up mainly in the US and it’s where I call home, no matter how much border control seems to disagree. Continue reading →
Hi friends! SAPAHM! Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! What do Into the Badlands and Ali Wong have to do with each other? Very little!
But! They’re both popular right now, and they’re both Asian and/or Asian peripheral! Ali Wong is self explanatory. (OMFG somehow I accidentally typed “sexplanatory” which made me laugh and also maybe is accurate because she does talk about sex a lot in her specials?) So! I’ve seen both her Netflix specials! The first a few months ago, the newer one more recently.
I’m including trailers for both because hopefully they hit the highlights and you get the chance to watch – if you have your own NF account you definitely should watch them … and if you don’t, see if you can watch with a friend. I laughed until I wheezed.
Hi friends! Can you believe it’s February already?
February means a lot of things, but at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet (ALBTALBS) it means I’m happy – eager even – to celebrate Black romance authors and readers. And Black History. Throughout the month I’m hoping to have special guests, guests that will write informative posts, etc.
Hi friends! Since 2014 I’ve tried to do an annual celebration of the [Smithsonian] Heritage Months at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet. I went with the Smithsonian calendar because it was definitive. Last year I added Pride because … well a number of reasons.
The Smithsonian Heritage Months are as follows:
February: Black History Month
March: Women’s History Month
May: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM)
June: Pride Month
September 15-October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month
November: Native American Heritage Month
I first decided to celebrate the Smithsonian Heritage Months in 2013. I didn’t do a “kickoff” until 2014 so as to get a full year or each month … and I’ve been haphazardly trying to get posts since. About two years ago I opened it up to international friends as well, and for 2018 I’m opening it up to everyone. For example, in the past, each month was exclusive to someone who fit under the umbrella of the month being celebrated. Not anymore. Everyone is encouraged to write a guest post!
Hi friends! So, as usual I’m behind and flying by the seat of my pants – which might explain some things because I pretty much don’t wear pants … – anyway! Diversity! We’ve been seeing a lot about it of late in romanceland. Starting in 2015, I’d say especially. I think that’s a good thing. A great thing. Lots of people chiming in, lots of passionate (sometimes angry) voices – and that’s okay too. I think the “wider world out there” is also seeing how much further we – as people – humanity as a whole – need to go.
Hi friends! So there’s as usual a ton going on … but I spent most of last week in New York, and am in fact still in the state, although no longer in the city. That’s the me update, and there’s a lot of talk and tea spilling, and general … follow up and fall through. We’ll see if any of that comes out here.
What I want to say here and now is that I’m looking for romance authors and readers to guest for the upcoming Smithsonian Heritage Month posts for the remainder of 2015. They are Hispanic Heritage Month, and American Indian Heritage Month. I know race/ethnicity is a lot more complicated than those labels and they might not even be the preferred ones, but that’s what the National [Smithsonian] labels are, and that’s what I’m using to keep things consistent.
So, if you are a Hispanic and/or Latino romance reader or writer, or Native American, I would love to have you be a guest for the Heritage Month 2015.
Along those lines, I’m looking to schedule into 2016. We’ve got Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), and American Indian Heritage Month (November). What I want to do in 2016 is open it to anyone not just readers or authors of each specific ethnicity. Since this is a book blog, I want a[nother] focus to be if you’ve ever read a book with such characters that left an impression on you. I’m still working out the details, but I’m looking for people, so if you’re interested, please let me know.
Thanks lovies! I hope to be back to a more regular schedule and content soon!
Hispanic Heritage Month is almost over! (And does anyone know why the month runs from September 15 to October 15? … I guess I should’ve looked that up…) BUT! More importantly, today we have Inés Saint who was a total rockstar and great about doing things right off the cuff. So, I hope you enjoy this post! Also, welcome Inés because she’s new to ALBTALBS! We want her to like us! 😉
When Worlds Collide
I moved to the United States from Puerto Rico for the first time when I was four years old and I remember being very nervous about the move. My biggest fear: learning a new language. The day before we left, my mom and my aunt were upstairs, talking about our big move, and I would interrupt them from time to time, yelling up from the bottom of the stairs, asking my mom if a word I’d just made up meant something in English. After throwing out at least twenty made-up words, I hit upon a real one: cake. I felt so proud!
My first days of school in New Jersey were riddled with misunderstandings. I didn’t know how to tell my teacher I didn’t like chocolate milk, so I pinched my nose and poured it down a drain to show her. She was not happy. Another day, I didn’t know what I was supposed to be writing on a brown paper bag the teacher had passed out, so I copied the kid next to me. The teacher said something like, “Your name’s not Michael!” when I turned it in, and everyone laughed. I knew that’s what she’d said because I knew the kid’s name, but I never would have guessed that’s what the boy was spelling out!
Little by little, I learned the language, and little by little, I fit in. By the time we moved to Boston, I felt like I belonged. Boston especially was a wonderful place for me. Everyone there seemed so proud of their heritage. So many of my friends’ parents were interested in my culture, and they knew their own so well. Everyone was ‘one eighth this, or one fourth that’.
But a few years later, I was back on the island. I had forgotten so much Spanish! The mistakes and misunderstandings began again. Imagine a shy seventh grader mistaking the word bracelet for bra and the word embarrassed for pregnant. It wasn’t a fun time. After a while, though, I became friends with a girl who grew up in Tallahassee and our experiences were so similar, everything felt like it would be okay. Soon, I became friends with kids who had grown up in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and even Ireland! It helped to know others like me, who felt caught between two worlds. They got the way I felt.
Throughout the years, I continued to move back and forth. I’ve lived in both places every decade of my life. Sometimes it feels like I have one foot on the main land and the other on the island. There are times when I feel I don’t really belong in either place, and there are times when I feel like my experiences make me fit in anywhere. I’ve also had moments when I’ve been judged and rejected because of the language I speak and because of my heritage. In both places.
But I’m thankful for each and every experience because I believe they’ve all made me a more compassionate person. I’m always able to spot a person who feels left out and few things make me happier than making a person feel welcome. My own children moved with my husband and me from Puerto Rico to Ohio a few years ago and they say it helped that I understood what they were going through. My oldest child says he felt he belonged the day he said the word, “dude”, and it came out naturally. I knew exactly how he felt.
Right now, we’re still in Ohio. We’re lucky to live in a place with a wonderful Puerto Rican population. I’m also very involved in my kids’ schools and I’ve made some great friends who’ve lived right here in Ohio their whole lives. Last Christmas, our Puerto Rican friends planned a Parranda for us. A Parranda is something like Christmas caroling, but Puerto Rican style… LOUDER! The music is fun and rhythmic and I knew some of my American friends would enjoy it (for the record, I know we’re all Americans ;)).
Over one hundred people came to our Parranda and our house was filled with music, laughter and friendship that night. Our American friends and their children truly appreciated getting a glimpse of a fun and important part of Puerto Rican culture. We served a traditional chicken stew and I was touched by how interested everyone was in learning about our food and customs.
It was the first time my two worlds had collided and it was a beautiful moment for me. I realized I didn’t really live between two worlds. We all live in one world, made up of the people we choose to surround ourselves with.
. To this day, people in my town talk about the Parranda. I’ve been asked when we’ll host another one, and people I’ve never met who have heard about it have asked if they can come to the next one. It’s hard to explain how absolutely proud this makes me. Proud of my Puerto Rican friends for always being so generous and willing to share everything they can about our culture in such fun ways, and proud of my American friends, for wanting to learn, enjoy, and share the experience with others.
When I told my son the story of how I learned my first word in English, he made an important observation: at the end of the day, we’re all just ‘dudes’ (and ‘dudettes’?) who eat ‘cake’. I wish more people understood this! The world would be a better place indeed.
I love this post! And not just because I LOVE cake! 😉 Also, I’m now not sure what my first word was. And that makes me a little sad. Cake is a great first [English] word. 😀 I’d love to hear your thoughts! Come on, who couldn’t be happy and warm fuzzy after reading this?