East Asian actors seek RSC apology over Orphan of Zhao casting

 

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A group of east Asian actors is seeking an apology from the Royal Shakespeare Company for its controversial casting of The Orphan of Zhao.

 

Last week, the RSC faced criticism on Facebook over a 17-strong company featuring only three actors of east Asian heritage that will perform James Fenton’s adaptation of a piece that is often referred to as the Chinese Hamlet from December.

 

However, the Stage reports that British Chinese actor Daniel York, the vice-chair of Equity’s ethnic minority committee, has called for an apology and a public debate with RSC representatives, including artistic directorGregory Doran. The company has defended its casting on the grounds that The Orphan of Zhao is one of three plays being performed by the ensemble.

 

York told the Guardian last week that the problem was by no means confined to the RSC: “The whole industry is reluctant to cast east Asians in non-race specific roles. We are generally only thought of as the Chinese takeaway man or the Japanese businessman.” he said.

 

It is a vicious cycle, York said: “It’s incredibly hard for an east Asian person to build up the track record that would enable the RSC to feel confident in casting them in a decent role. We’re not on the radar because we’re not working very much.”

 

According to industry newspaper the Stage, the RSC’s head of casting Hannah Miller and producer Kevin Fitzmaurice met with Equity representatives including York last week. Martin Brown, spokesman for the actors’ union, said it was “now raising this matter with both employers and funding bodies and is calling for urgent action.”

 

Last week, Doran told the Guardian that the company had auditioned “lots and lots” of east Asian actors – including York – and had made offers that were turned down.

 

In a joint statement with RSC executive director Catherine Mallyon, Doran said: “We understand that the casting of our World Elsewhere season of three plays has led to much concern and are sorry that this is the case.”

 

“We do recognise that the lack of visibility for Chinese and east Asian actors in theatre and on screen is a live and very serious issue. We are beginning the process of talking to industry colleagues, representing employers and actors, to set up a forum for wider debate, which we hope will make a meaningful difference.”

Florida educators will Judge Students based on race putting Asians at a higher standard

 

Florida’s public school students will be judged in part by race and ethnicity, under new education benchmarks approved this week.

And that has created a firestorm in South Florida.

Opponents say setting higher goals for whites and Asians and lower goals for Latino and black groups is insulting and feeds racial stereotypes.

 

“All children should be held to high standards and for them to say that for African-Americans the goal is below other students is unacceptable,” said Patrick Franklin, president and CEO of the Urban League of Palm Beach County.

The State Board of Education on Tuesday approved its strategic plan that in part sets different reading and math targets for students according to their heritages.

 

Cheryl Etters, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education, said the disparate numbers are not meant to lower expectations but rather set “realistic and attainable” goals.

“Of course we want every student to be successful,” Etters said. “But we do have to take into account their starting point.”

According to the plan, by 2018, the state wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of blacks to be at or above reading grade level.

The state also wants 86 percent of white students, 92 percent of Asians, 80 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of blacks to be at or above their math grade level.

But Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said setting loftier benchmarks for some students perpetuates an already dysfunctional system.

“Why do we want to perpetuate what’s going on today?” he said. “The reality we have today is not the reality that we want to see tomorrow.”

Broward school board member Donna Korn said expectations should be equal across the board.

“All of our students have to face the same careers and if we allow them to have different levels of success, then they will falter.”

She was also concerned the strategic plan could affect the state’s issuance of school grades. “We’ll start looking at race when we’re scoring our schools. That’s not appropriate.”

But state officials said the race-based goals would not factor into school grades; schools will only be evaluated for the performance of students as a whole.

Winnie Tang, president of the Asian American Federation of Florida, said the benchmarks are also hurtful to Asians.

“We still have a lot of students who are average and below average. Being [perceived as] a higher achiever really hurts a lot of students,” she said.

The last strategic plan approved by the state in July did not differentiate between racial or ethnic groups.

Though now the goals for some groups are lower, state officials said those students still have expectations to meet and often an even bigger jump to make.

While 69 percent of white students are currently at reading level, only 38 percent of black students and 53 percent of Hispanic students meet the same standard.

The goals call for a 19 percent boost in reading levels for whites by 2018 but a 36 percent spike for blacks.

“There is an achievement gap and we’re working really hard to close that,” Etters said.

Jorge Avellana, executive director of the Hispanic Human Resources Council, Inc. in Palm Beach County, said setting a lower bar would not solve the problem of poor performance.

In 2011, 86.8 percent of white students graduated in Broward County compared to 65.5 percent of black students and 79.3 percent of Latinos.

In Palm Beach, 89.8 percent of white students graduated while 66.5 percent black students and 75.2 percent of Latino students graduated.

“Why do we have to accept that?, asked Avellana, adding that changing expectations for some groups would create a second class group of citizens.

Runcie said the state’s targets would have no impact on the district.

“We’re going to set lofty goals for all of our students. We know students regardless of race can achieve.”

 

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Jay Chen, LA-OC Congressional Candidate, Gets Another Anti-Asian Rant And Threat of Violence

 

the racist war against Asians continues

 

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Jay Chen‘s congressional campaign tells OC Weekly that it received yet another racist, anti-Asian rant over the weekend and this one threatened physical violence against the American-born Democrat who is hoping to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Ed Royce.

We told you last week about a disgraced Costa Mesa businessman sending Chen, who is of Taiwanese ancestry, an email loaded with racist terms like “chink” and “slant-eyed gook” and “slope.”

The latest attack was also voiced by a person of outstanding intellect and maturity:
“Hey, you little Chinese fucker,” said the man, who voiced support for Royce manliness (no joke) and then went on to call Chen a “little shit” and “a piece of crap.”
Chen campaign manager Sam Liu said they received the telephone message on Saturday from a person who blocked his number.