Asian Community Is Not Happy With The White Guy That Got His Poem Published By Submitting It Under An Asian Name
Independent- A white man named Michael Derrick Hudson claims that changing his name to "Yi-Fen Chou" has given him a leg up in the brutal world of published poetry. The revelation has sparked accusations of misrepresentation and racism, with comparisons to disgraced Rachel Dolezal.
Hudson, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a genealogist at the Allen County Public Library. His poem -- “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve" -- was selected for the 2015 edition of “Best American Poetry,” with the pseudonym that uses a surname of Chinese origins.
"I chose a strange and funny and rueful poem written by Yi-Fen Chou, which turns out to be a Chinese pseudonym used by a white male poet named Michael Derrick Hudson as a means of subverting what he believes to be a politically correct poetry business," Alexie wrote in a blog post published Monday. "I only learned that Yi-Fen Chou was a pseudonym used by a white man after I'd already picked the poem and Hudson promptly wrote to reveal himself."
Phil Yu, who runs the blog "AngryAsianMan.com," wrote online, "Folks, if there is such a thing as employing yellowface in poetry, this has to be it."
"There is a very short answer for my use of a nom de plume: after a poem of mine has been rejected a multitude of times under my real name, I put Yi-Fen's name on it and send it out again. As a strategy for 'placing' poems this has been quite successful for me," Hudson wrote in the contributors' notes section of "The Best American Poetry 2015."
The poetry scandal is described as having a "Rachel Dolezal-esque tangle of questions about identity, authenticity, political correctness and 'affirmative action,'" according to The Washington Post, referring to the former NAACP chapter president in Spokane, Washington, who was accused of lying about her race and background.
It's long been said that institutional racism is the root of racial unrest in this country. So while I find it disingenuous that some white poet submitted his poem under an Asian pseudonym, I have much bigger problem with the fact that he felt he had to. All things considered, a white dude creating a realistic Asian alias isn't nearly as much of an issue as the prejudice that white people are apparently facing in the poetry business. Yeah, I know, I can't believe I am saying it either, but numbers never lie. Same poem. Submitted 40 times by a white guy and published zero times. Submitted 10 times by an "Asian" guy and published once. While 10% is still pretty low as far as success rates go it is exponentially higher than 0%. I knew we would find one, I just didn't think this would be it. The one walk of life where white people are discriminated against turns out to be poetry. Edgar Allen Poe is somewhere out there violently rolling over in his grave.
I understand why the Asian community is less than enthused with this man's choice of name, but it' s pretty obvious they have no idea what constitutes real racism anymore. That's a good thing considering the racial tension that currently exists in this country, but it makes them look rather stupid when they start crying over a fake Chinese name. Come on Asians. You aren't dealing with police brutality or getting stared at intently in airports. The worst you have to deal with is people assuming you're smart and making fun of the way you say 'hello'. No one is not hiring an Asian for a job because they are Asian. Shit, their ethnicity is better to have on their resume than a degree from Harvard, even though they probably have both anyway. Think about that. This guy choose an Asian name because he thought it would help him progress in his career that is supposedly open to all demographics. I think it's safe to say that they are not exactly being forced to sit in the back of the bus.
You want to be upset with someone? Be upset with these publishing companies that will do anything to keep the white man down. Riddle me this, if this poem was good enough to make it into this book when it had an Asian name attached to it then how come it wasn't good enough the 40 times prior when it had a white name attached to it? These Asians are crying racism while the real victim here, for once, is the majority. The only way in which this was an act of "yellow face" is in the sense that this man would have done anything for his face to perceived as any color other than white. Rachel Dolezal? That's really a comparison that we want to roll with? The girl that is responsible for the biggest racial ruse in modern history? The girl that pretended to be black so she could get a job that's generally reserved for African Americans? While a job at the NAACP might be race specific, getting published as a poet is undoubtedly not, or at least it shouldn't be. You might have an argument is this book was called 'The Best Asian-American Poetry'.
I have been sitting here for years, uncomfortable in my caucasian skin, loathing my forefathers for the white privilege that's been bestowed upon me. Well no longer. It's time to get proactive. It's time for old white men to bust through the glass ceiling of the written word industry, even if they have to use extremely stereotypical oriental names to do so. No longer will a lack of melanin keep us from expressing ourselves through melodic literature. If black lives matter than white rhymes matter too. I don't care if they were composed by somebody that with questionable morals. The book of 'Best American Poetry' should be filled with the best American poetry, regardless of whose name is attached to it. I don't care if it's Michael Derrick Hudson, Yi-Fen Chou, or the artist formerly known as both...or either. Good poems are good poems and they deserve to be in a book of good poems. Let's focus less on how they got there and more on the unquestionably prejudice practices that kept them out in the first place.