This gets me angry, but for different reasons. I love dogs, and I’m Asian, but this type of short-sighted ignorance to protest a horrible practice in China in Chinatown New York where they don’t eat cats or dogs seems so unjust. It’s like protesting ISIS in Bay Ridge with its significant Muslim population, or Haiti’s corrupt government here in Crown Heights. It doesn’t make sense.
You can read the article from ReAppropriate here:
Since 2009, one festival in China has caused a stir in the animal rights community. The festival — the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival — was inaugurated that year, and immediately resurrected controversy over the ethics of consuming dog meat. Pictures of dogs crammed into tiny wire cages have shocked netizens for the last several years, along with reports that as many as 10,000 dogs are slaughtered annually at the festival.
The festival — which is not sanctioned by the local government — is intended to celebrate a centuries-old tradition in parts of China where dog meat is considered a delicacy. Government officials insist that the festival is attended by a small minority of local residents. This doesn’t stop outraged animal rights activists, however, from protesting the festival as outrageous and unethical.
The question of dog meat consumption is, I think, a weighty one. While I have never consumed dog meat, I can find nothing more (or less) unethical about eating canines than any other meat considered acceptable for consumption in the West. Animals are not by nature categorized as “food animals” or “companion animals” — this is a human conceit. Dogs are no smarter than pigs, which are routinely raised and slaughtered for food in America. Cuteness is subjective. Other animals that Americans typically consider to be cherished pets are traditionally eaten in other Western nations, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and horses. Dogs slaughtered in Yulin are not treated less humanely than some livestock raised for consumption in America, where cows, pigs and chicken are routinely housed in deplorable and unsanitary conditions.
Let’s be real: for some activists, this really just boils down to an “ick” factor. Yet, cultural qualms about eating dog meat are just that — our qualms. Other cultures are equally as disgusted by how we view some animals — cow, for example — as totally acceptable all-American food sources. I may not be really up for eating dog, but I have little business telling someone else that they should abide by my disgust. It is culturally imperialist to assert that food sources I might find unappetizing has no business being on someone else’s plate.
Yet, animal rights activists rarely confront — or even acknowledge — how their actions blur the lines between a reasonable conversation about animal rights and historic anti-Asian stereotypes. This is not just a conversation about the ethical treatment of dogs. This is also a conversation about race, ethnicity, privilege, and stereotypes.
For centuries, anti-Asian stereotypes have included portrayals of Chinese as barbaric consumers of dirty and unimaginable food sources. The stereotype of the “Heathen Chinee” typically associated Chinese immigrants with the frequent eating of rat or dog as evidence of their cultural and moral inferiority to Whiteness, thereby co-opting a cultural culinary tradition to rationalize white supremacy. Meanwhile, we rarely consider how the development of traditions around “unconventional” meat sources is also as much about institutionalized poverty as it is about culinary interest. Itshould come as little surprise that the parts of China where canine meat is consumed are also predominantly rural areas where livestock may have been historically and seasonally scarce. In America, anti-Asian stereotypes about dog and rat meat were further reinforced by the fact that early East Asian immigrants to America were often trapped in indentured servitude and ghettoized to ethnic enclaves where more conventional food sources were simply inaccessible and unavailable. There is a certain economic privilege in moralizing about certain food sources, when the tradition may have its roots in systemic hunger and poverty.
Today’s animal rights activists ignore Asian Americans’ history of enduring stereotypes of the “Heathen Chinee” when they confuse the enjoyment of dog meat by some Chinese people as endemic to all Chinese people. Last Friday, roughly twenty misguided animal rights activists took to the streets of New York City’s Chinatown to protest the consumption of dog meat in Southern China. The animal rights activists claim they are interested in advocating that China ban dog meat festivals. Yet, to accomplish this, they spent a day harassing Chinese American restaurant owners and patrons, most of whom have zero connection with the Yulin dog meat festival, with a message of cultural intolerance and nativism.
Said one protester to the New York Daily News:
“That’s not how we roll in our country. If they … bring that tradition to our country, they’ll be investigated and will go to jail,” he said.
This protest was a clusterfuck of compounding stereotypes. The activists invoked the “Heathen Chinee” stereotype with their assumption that the consumption of dog meat is widespread in China. The activists invoked the Perpetual Foreigner stereotype with their organizing of a protest targeting Chinese Americans about the goings-on in parts of Southern China. The activists reinforced a White-normative framework of what is, and what isn’t, considered “acceptably American”. The activists even implicitly reference the Model Minority stereotype with their bizarre assumption that the actions of White animal rights activists are needed to galvanize Chinese people to political action.
Never mind, of course, that animal rights are increasingly an important issue for Chinese citizens, amid rising dog ownership among China’s wealthy and middle class. Since the festival’s inception in 2009, it has faced profound public backlash within China as activists gather at the festival and purchase and save dogs destined for slaughter. A recent poll suggests that as many as two-thirds of Chinese people oppose animal cruelty and support animal products produced humanely.
Yet, last week’s animal rights protesters in New York City ignored the burgeoning Chinese animal rights movement, and in so doing erased their work. Instead, they assumed that the West’s moral superiority regarding the ethical treatment of animals is needed to save Chinese people from our own barbarism.
I get that activists angered about the Yulin festival wanted to do something about it. But they could have raised money or posted selfies supporting the work of Chinese animal rights groups. They could have written letters to the Chinese government, or even protested outside of New York City’s Chinese consulate where they could speak to the actual Chinese government. They didn’t need to confuse the difference between Chinese and Chinese American with their moral scolding. They didn’t need to trample over the work of Chinese animal rights activists by reinforcing the narrative of Eastern backwards-ness and Western enlightenment.
And they sure didn’t need to invoke the language of xenophobia with their “don’t bring this to our country” rhetoric. Chinese Americans are Americans. Most of us aren’t really down to eat dog; and oh, by the way, this is our country too.
Get your own Pop Your Pup t-shirt here (pizza, dog, and cool not included).
So I decided to open up an Etsy Shop (official launch in July). It will feature both handmade pet accessories and home goods; I figured that I should utilize my design skills, my desire to make tangible stuff, and my love of my dog into a singular hobby that I can share with the world at an oh-most-affordable price. Initially, I’m going to make dog bandanas and collars using fabric I find pretty cool and fashionable — essentially chic (in my eyes) patterns that have a young, New York or Los Angeles sensibility. Hell, after my freelance design stint at Macy’s fashion department, I’m trying to reestablish myself as someone “who works in the fashion industry” — albeit for dogs. Eventually, I want to transition into home accessories, like glassware and pillows, but with a sardonic “I’m a graphic designer” or “I’m in the creative tech industry” sense of humor.
So, sewing is pretty fucking easy:
I learned to sew with a simple needle and thread at a very early age, thanks to my mom. Between her earliest job as a work-from-home medical transcriber and a stay-at-home mother, she would mend clothes and sew in her free time. At age 4 or so, I watched her repair a shirt or pair of pants, and it was then that she taught me to sew by hand.
In 6th grade, my classmates and I took a home economics class as part of a rotating curriculum of lifestyle courses (art, shop, and computers were also included). It was there in home ec that I learned how to properly use a sewing machine. I remember our first project was to create a standard, square-shaped throw pillow, and I recall that my teacher Mrs. Schwartz applauded at such a fine looking pillow (for what it’s worth). I think I even kept that pillow throughout high school.
The pillow was a constant reminder to press the sewing machine pedal and stitch forward then backward to create a secure closure (a back-stitch).
I think with my most basic knowledge of operating a sewing machine, my aesthetic as a print and web designer, and my fascination with social media trends, I can probably profit a few bucks. Wish me luck.
Today marked my 9-year anniversary of adopting Nico — my beloved Husky-Labrador mix — from the Humane Society in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Nico was approximately a year old when I got her, and I effectively made her adoption day her birthday.
To be alive for a decade… and to be a dog. Happy Birthday, Nico.
The circumstances of me adopting Nico were pathetic, if not wholly unspectacular: I came back to finish my senior year of undergrad after taking two semesters off. I was living by myself on campus and in a modest 1-bedroom duplex, and I admit I was incredibly lonely. Most of my good friends — my support system at the time, aside from my parents — had either already graduated or disappeared from my life, leaving me alone to complete my studies in quiet, anti-social solitude. At the time, I was recovering from a year-long bout of depression that resulted in the contemplation of suicide and a 3-month out-patient therapy stint. I was an emotional mess and being alone certainly did not help. Ever since returning to Urbana-Champaign towards the end of 2006, I knew I needed a companion, a best friend.
And so, on Presidents’ Day of 2007 and with the help of my veterinary student friend Dawn, I adopted a thin, timid dog originally named “Jasmine.” I’ve always wanted a Siberian Husky, what with the stunning eyes, perked ears, and the dual-colored coats. And it was Jasmine’s eyes that I noticed — what drew me to this particular creature was the stark blue eye and regular brown eye. Sure, she was shy, but I knew this dog was unique.
My cousin’s name is Jasmine, so I renamed her Nico. At the time, I’ve been really obsessed with The Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, and the model/singer Nico who collaborated with them. I remember when I first took her out of the shelter: she started squat-walking, excitedly leaving behind her a trail of piss across the fresh snow. At first, she wouldn’t play with her toys or even pay attention to me; the shelter even noted that she was afraid of male humans. Still, it seemed she was just happy and curious to explore the world outside of the kennel. God knows how long she’s been in there.
On her first night, she cautiously slept on the floor. On the second night, she was comfortable enough to sleep on my bed, huddled like a furball by my feet. Since that day, Nico has always been by side: to graduating from Urbana-Champaign, to moving back home to Chicago, to moving to Jersey City to Williamsburg to Crown Heights, NYC. As dogs go, she’s a faithful companion and the most loyal friend to grace my side. It’s idealistic and foolish to think or hope, but here’s to another decade of this unconditional love.
I know people will say that I saved her. But fuck that; she saved me.