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May 2016

Starring Asian Americans!


Fresh Off the Boat was renewed for a 3rd season.  The Mindy Project was renewed for a 5thMasterMaster of None tv series poster of None was renewed for a 2nd season.   So were Dr.Ken and Quantico.   This is all in the same year!  Why is this a big deal?  Almost all of them are shows created by and starring Asian characters (who do not look anywhere close to white) and they’re being renewed – meaning there are enough “mainstream” audience members tuning in.  Asians/Asian Americans represent 5.6% of the US population but representation is disproportionately low in TV and films.  And when you consider that their stories often take place in cities where there should be a large Asian/Asian American population, yet the few Asians depicted are in hospital settings and Chinatowns.  There is not just a dearth of Asian representation, but also a dearth in the variety of roles Asians can play.

Until these past few years, starring roles for Asians/Asian Americans have been mostly nonexistent, especially starring roles where they’re central characters who do not have to play second fiddle to the white co-lead.  The claim has always been that there just isn’t enough of an audience for Asian leads.  Family sitcoms are huge on broadcast network television, yet the last network sitcom to star an Asian American family was in 1994 until Fresh Off the Boat was created in 2015.  During that time, the number of Asians/Asian Americans in the US has doubled.

Asian roles have mainly been limited to stereotypes and roles and stories that everyone is comfortable with seeing Asians perform (so ix-nay on having an Asian in the role of male romantic lead in a heterosexual relationship).  Furthermore, due to whitewashing, leading Asian characters that should have gone to Asian/Asian-American actors are often reimagined as white characters (see 21) or are played by white actors (see Aloha).  While Asian countries have their own TV and movie industries and some Asians/Asian Americans consume their content, it does not feel right that we have to “go back to where we came from” and sometimes have to leap over a cultural divide to find Asians as nuanced, central characters.

Meet Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming US adaptation of the Japanese manga/anime, Ghost in a Shell. I have so many questions...

Meet Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming US adaptation of the Japanese manga/anime, Ghost in a Shell. I have so many questions…

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, here are some interesting blog articles and movie recommendations related to this topic:

Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle:  A subversive, stoner comedy featuring two Asian male leads getting into shenanigans like getting high and taking a pointless road trip which ends up being a metaphor for self-discovery.  Here is a trailer.  You can borrow this from the Boston Public Library.

Indian Accents Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film  Borrow the book from the Wheelock College Library.

Master of None, episode 4 “Indians on TV”.    This episode tackles issues of diversity in Hollywood.  Here are two scenes from that episode. You can watch this episode if you have access to Netflix.

Of 800 main cast members on 100 network TV shows, just 52 (6%) are of Asian descent

Slaying the Dragon by Deborah Gee: a documentary about the portrayal of Asian American women in film. While the documentary is old, it lays out the history of Asian stereotypes in media. Borrow the DVD from the Wheelock College Library.

#StarringJohnCho:  Click on the hashtag to view popular movie posters photoshopped with John Cho as the male lead.  Those who feel John Cho is out of place in these posters will have glimpsed a little into how minorities feel about whitewashing and those who don’t feel he is out of place won’t be deterred from movies featuring an Asian male lead.

This is a Jar Full of Major Characters.  Beautiful, easy-to-understand explanation about whitewashing and the difference between racebending a character from POC to white and racebending a character from white to a POC.

Poetry from the Wheelock Poet-Tree

In April the library started a Poet-Tree to celebrate National Poetry Month. The Wheelock community made blackout poems on leaves cut from old discarded books, and then added those leaves to the Poet-Tree. The tree proved so popular, that we ended up leaving it up through the end of the semester. Just look at how much the tree grew over time!

April 1st, 2016


May 13th, 2016Poet-Tree Full

If you didn’t get a chance to see the tree in person, we’ve got you covered. We documented each unique and creative poem so everyone can read them again and again. Just scroll through below for a closer look!

If you missed out on participating in the Poet-Tree this year, keep an eye our for its return next April 2017!

Graduating Seniors, Get Your Alumni Card Before You Leave!

An alumni card is a free library card which allows Wheelock alumni to borrow books from the Wheelock College Library even after they’ve graduated from Wheelock.  Alumni who already live around the area or plan to stick around will find this useful as it gives them access to a very Wheelock collection of books- books that focus on children and families, human development and behavior, education, social issues, social welfare, and social justice, and the importance of the diversity of human experience.  This card also means access to the 16,000 children’s books on Floor 2M.  Check out our alumni borrowing policies page for more information.


So, graduating seniors, before you bid au revoir to Wheelock, stop by the Library with your current Wheelock ID and get your alumni card.  For those who have already graduated, contact the Library.

covers of new books


Style By The Book: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

With only 9 days left in the semester, I bet most of you are spending every second dreaming of your fun upcoming summer adventures.

(For those of you who are in fact Demigods trying to pass yourselves off as normal college kids, this is the time of year that you are secretly packing up your things to return to Camp Half-Blood. Feel free to skim over this next paragraph, and check out the photos below for some fashion inspiration as you plan your first-day-of-camp outfits.)

For the rest of you, let me recommend that you add Percy Jackson and the Olympians to your summer reading lists! The five-book series follows a group of entirely fictional Heroes and Demigods who spend their summers training to fight completely made-up monsters at a definitely fabricated place called Camp Half-Blood. This “Style by the Book” is inspired by the story’s two main protagonists, Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase.


Do you have a favorite book that you want to see featured on Style by the Book? Share your suggestions in the comments!