Catherine Wang, 21
The phrase "red-blooded American" conjures up images of vigorous and patriotic masculinity. But those images are invariably white. Asian American men have always been unfairly stereotyped.
Fearing miscegenation, white Americans first demonized Asian American men the way they did Black men, as lewd threats to white womanhood. Then, Asian American men were painted as subservient, foreign, and undesirable. These stereotypes didn’t square with my own knowledge of the range of Asian masculinity. The men in my family are strong, mature, and capable--red-blooded Americans if ever there was one. The Chinese legends I learned about as a kid were filled with men who were honorable and brave generals, elegant and educated poets, wise and kind mentors.
In this piece, I painted my brother as the Chinese god of war. He is proud and brave and strong. He is also angry and frustrated. Painted red, white, and blue, is my brother finally American enough? Or is he more foreign than ever?