Representations of the Mixed Race

Posted: November 28th, 2013

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Representations of the Mixed Race

            The issue of race has been reviewed by many as far as the society is concerned. This is more so where more than one race is in existence especially in the American (United States), Asian and the European countries. Mulattos, who are an outcome of mixed races, have been a point of interest for many decades. The book American Son by Brian Roley and the essay How to Rehabilitate a Mulatto: the Iconography of Tiger Woods by Hiram Perez have depicted the mixed race issue from the offspring born in the United States. From the literal works, the Asian American regional/historical context matters, contentious, and race as a social construct have been depicted.

In the novel American Son, Brian Roley tells the story of two brothers who are half Filipino and half American, the mother being from Philippines and the father being from America. Gabe, the narrator in the novel, is an adolescent and the younger of the two brothers who is timid, observant, shy and obedient, suffocating under his older brother’s indifference towards him and his mother’s high expectations of him even though he is going through an identity crisis. On the other hand, Tomas, the elder of the two brothers is arrogant, indifferent to his brothers, disobedient to his mother, a high school drop out, likes to wear Mexican clothes although he runs a legal business of rearing dogs and selling them to the Hollywood celebrities. The novel, divided into three sections, takes the reader through the many challenges the narrator goes through before accepting his identity as a Mulatto.

Hiram Perez’s essay is more focused on Tiger Woods who is referred to as a Cablinasia since he as the origin of a Caucasian, African American (black), American India (native) and an Asia (Thai and Chinese). The author argues that, “the celebrity of a figure such as Tiger Woods functions to rehabilitate the mulatto in order to announce the arrival of a new color-blind era in the U.S history,” (Dave 223). In the essay, Perez, analyses the ways in which the celebrity has been used to advocate a color-blind America. One example given is his advertisement on the Nike products. Since Woods has conquered a sport that was considered to belong to the Caucasians, many children from diverse races are spotted saying that they are Tiger Woods in one particular advertisement.

The controversies associated with the existence of the racial mixture of American Asians have taken a different turn. The two works bring forth diversity in the perception of these group people. In most cases, the Asians come to the United States in order to experience the American Dream. They come to the United States to get a better life for themselves. While others view them as intruders waiting to take away the small opportunities available, others view them as disadvantaged who have come to seek refuge in America. These controversies have led to the various depictions of this race. For example, Ika, Tomas and Gabe’s mother, works two jobs that are not well paying in a district (Venice) in California that was once neglected in the 1950s. On the other hand, Perez shows that the children from the diverse races, which include Asia, have backgrounds that look like they are urban poor backgrounds.

In most cases, one is not considered as a true American even though he/she might be legally so, as long as he has an origin of one of the other races apart from being a Caucasian. This has led to the mulattos’s own hate of themselves and families. In the novel, Gabe admits that he did not like her mother picking him from schools. He further gives a description of how short and dark she was especially when she wore the giant purple glasses that seemed trendy on everybody else apart from her mother since the glasses did not go well with her brown skin (Roley 30).

As earlier noted the poor jobs and the slums seemed to belong to the African Americans, the Mexican Americans, the Asian Americans and every other race considered not American. This regional/historical perception is also depicted by Tomas rebellion of his race. He chose to dress like a Mexican yet he was not one. This part of the novel depicts that he was ashamed of who he was. Similarly, Roley depicts Gabe as one who is afraid to glance at the rear mirror during his encounter with the truck driver. This shows that he was ashamed of looking at his reflection, which was a reflection of an Asian identity. In both cases, historical and regional perceptions of the Asian Americans brought social trauma on these boys thus their rejection of their own identity.

Tomas has a dog selling business even though he is a high-school dropout. He rears ordinary dogs, trains them to attack and then sells them Hollywood celebrities. Even though their only evidence of their ability to attack was the fact that they attacked some children, they are sold for thousand of dollars, which is overrated. Tomas gives them German names such as Heinrich and Greta so that they are perceived to be from Germany, yet they are as ordinary as they can be. Naming the dogs German names instead of giving them Asian names shows the power of a race. The dogs are more marketable when given German names than when given Asian names. The Asian were not highly regarded.

Perez’s essay brings forth another concept of the American Asia perception, this being in the race context. Perez states that Oprah Winfrey called Tiger Woods “America’s son” (226). This showed that Tiger Woods is a representation of the diverse races in the United States. He represents the color-blindness in the United States today. He cannot be called an Asian, Native American or an African American, but rather he is a representation of all and he has won a place in a sport that was dominated by one race.

Gabe’s encounter with the truck driver also acts as a revelation to the reader and the society in general. The truck driver was not conscious of Gabe’s Filipino origin. He further states that he might have not been an Asian at all. This made Gabe find a place and comfort in the driver’s presence. In other words, the driver showed that there was no major significance in someone’s race. It aided Gabe in his final path of accepting his identity during the last section of the book.

Both literal works have brought forth similarities and diversity in the characters. Gabe’s family struggles with self-identity. Ika’s brother is angry with Ika because she refused to go back to her country. She chose to suffer the life imposed by the Americans on the Asians, yet there is a shinier easier life in Philippines. Gabe is avoids looking at the rear mirror in order to avoid looking at his reflection and he is ashamed of his own mother even though she is obedient and respectful to her. Tomas reactions to his brother and his family are an outward depiction of his internal conflicts. He dresses like a Mexican even though there are American and Asian clothing available.

Perez’s essay is a contrast of the novel. It shows hopes for the American Asians. The color-blindness adopted by the Americans shows that they are interested in the character rather than the color. The author shows that Wood’s dominance in the golf sport depicts hopes for all races thus the children’s advertisement. His (Woods) mother’s interest in education and his father’s interest in sport shaped Woods greatly. The mulatto’s will acquire their own identity if they choose to look themselves deeper than being American Asians.

Works cited

Perez, Hiram. “How to rehabilitate a Mulatto: The Iconography of Tiger Woods”. East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture, Ed. By Shilpa Dave, Leilani Nishime & Tasha G. Oren. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2005. Print.

Roley, Brian Ascalon. American Son. New York, NY: WW Norton, 2002. Print.

 

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