Power Rangers Brings Asian American Poverty Front and Center

By the time the Power Rangers craze first swept through in the early ’90s, I was just starting college, paying $290 a month in rent for a studio apartment in the Whittier neighborhood of South Minneapolis with a bed that pulled down from a wall, going to see Hong Kong flicks like Swordsman II and The Bride with White Hair Fridays at midnight, organized by Asia Media Access. I was still into nerd shit, but honestly the Power Rangers seemed, to me, corny and commercial. I thought it was funny that the Black Ranger was Black, the Yellow was a Vietnamese woman, and the Pink Ranger was a white woman.

My love of all things nerd grew in Phillips: Minnesota’s largest, poorest, and most racially diverse neighborhood, not all that far from my college apartment. As refugees from war with not a lot of money to spare, I learned to walk to the Franklin Avenue library where reading and checking out books was free. Comic books were less than a dollar, and watching television shows like Robotech and Dungeons and Dragons just meant having the discipline to wake up in time. I had friends of all colors and genders and backgrounds, and bullies of all colors and backgrounds. Things were difficult for us since my family were among that first wave of refugees that became the first large visible concentration of Asian American people in Minnesota. But there was also joy, and love, and friendship to go along with all the pain and conflict.

Flash forward to 2017.

Continue reading Power Rangers Brings Asian American Poverty Front and Center”

A Behind the Scenes Look At My Process

Originally posted at Medium

I recently got an email asking about my latest appearance on Madam Secretary and I thought I’d draw a cartoon about the whole thing.

Here was the email:

Wow!! I saw your episode last night and I’m blown away! So I had a question that you partially answered with a tweet. Do you speak Russian? At all? I saw that you had to learn 4 pages but did you have any background in the language. Also, your accent was amazing!!! Did you ever study the accent or did you just learn it when you got the audition?

Continue reading “A Behind the Scenes Look At My Process”

Harvard Man

As many of you may know, in addition to being a published author, an equal rights activist, and a nerd seraph, I’m also a pop culture analyst.

A regular fixture on the Nerds of Color, my work has also been featured on Salon, MTV.com, Mental Health Matters, Geeks OUT, Black Girl Magic Lit Mag, and a host of other places.

Whether it’s comic books, video games, blockbuster films, or music albums, it is absolutely paramount that we critique our media if for no other reason than to analyze its influence in molding minds and shaping society.

Continue reading “Harvard Man”

My Love/Hate Relationship with HBO’s Girls

Girls is over. I have a lot of feelings about this show, if you’re aware of the criticism surrounding it, then yes I’m going to dabble into that. As well as some of the parts I actually liked. If you don’t want to read this whole essay, then it’s fine. To sum up how I feel: I showed up for Adam Driver and developed a love-hate relationship with the series overall. Brace yourselves, this is going to be long.

Continue reading “My Love/Hate Relationship with HBO’s Girls

Your Name: When Body-Swapping Encounters Adolescence

Your Name, Makoto Shinkai’s latest animated film, has been making news and setting records in Japan (it’s currently the second highest grossing film of all time over there!) and after watching it, I’m not surprised. Your Name initially comes off as a light-hearted comedy but evolves into a film that touches upon various relatable themes that are woven throughout this story of adolescence, nostalgia, and love.

Continue reading Your Name: When Body-Swapping Encounters Adolescence”

NOC Recaps Into the Badlands: A Glimpse of the Other Side

Another week, another Into the Badlands recap that takes its cue from a Hamilton song. While it’s pretty obvious that I’m quoting Lin-Manuel’s soliloquy from the end of “The World Was Wide Enough” — fittingly about the lead-up and aftermath of a duel not unlike what Quinn and Ryder did last week — this week’s subtitle has as much to do with #GhostRyder as it does with the return of Sunny and Bajie who are just on the other side of the Badlands as well. And speaking of “other sides,” we see some characters aligning with other sides too. But really, it’s all about Quinn’s son on the other side.

Continue reading “NOC Recaps Into the Badlands: A Glimpse of the Other Side”

Know Yourself: One Happy Parent

As a long-term comic head, I have become enamored of every type of comic book. I have horror, Classics Illustrated, science fiction, traditional superhero, and tons of international comics in more long boxes than I can count. The one comic lane I could never get in to: educational comics. I love the old Civil Rights, How Toons, and history comic books. What I could not stand were the ‘this is how the digestive tract works’ or ‘let’s wind our way through the eyeball’ offerings. This would seem to be in direct opposition of my cheerleading the use of comics in educational settings. Hey, I’m complex. As a parent, my dislike has curdled to disdain.

Continue reading “Know Yourself: One Happy Parent”

Navigating Through Race: The Plight of Storytellers of Color

Originally published at Fangs for the Fantasy

A gent by the name of Malcolm X once said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Many people often wonder how I’m able to reconcile being a spec fic author with being a social justice activist. Malcolm X’s quote is that very reason.

Because while the media has the power to control the minds of the masses, it’s also a platform to hold a mirror and expose inconvenient truths such as bigotry to a society who is still plugged into the proverbial Matrix of privilege and institutional oppression.

But in order share the truth, marginalized artists have to make many decisions that can play an impact on our careers, our art and its potential impact on society.

Continue reading “Navigating Through Race: The Plight of Storytellers of Color”

An Asian American Woman is the Hero of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

This morning was the long anticipated Last Jedi panel at the annual Star Wars Celebration convention in Orlando, and it didn’t disappoint. In addition to seeing Force Awakens breakouts John Boyega and Daisy Ridley reunite on stage, the world was officialy introduced to Kelly Marie Tran. Even better? We finally got a sense of who her mysterious character is and how she fits in the saga.

Continue reading “An Asian American Woman is the Hero of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Color Commentary: Iron Cyst and the Return of the Draggin’

Just when Marvel thought it was safe.

Color Commentary is back and this time we’re breaking out the Snark Fu once more on arguably the biggest disaster of 2017: Netflix’s Iron Fist.

That’s right. Myself and Madame Gao will once again be providing the tea, the shade, and the truth on all things Discount Arrow.

Continue reading “Color Commentary: Iron Cyst and the Return of the Draggin’”