Stage and Studio on 03/08/11
What to call yourself when you don't have a name? That's what Dmae Roberts grappled with most of her adult life. In a country that likes to think it celebrates cultural diversity, race and identity continue to be a complex topic. As Dmae charts four decades of history, we hear from her perspective what it's like to be a "Secret Asian Woman."
Secret Asian Woman is a personal exploration of identity and Mixed Race by Independent Producer Dmae Roberts, who has to make a daily decision to reveal her ethnicity. Through her personal story, Dmae charts four decades of a search by multiracial peoples for a name. The politics of calling out racism has changed through the years as has identification. In this half-hour radio documentary, Dmae talks with other Mixed Race Asian women with identities not easily recognized and addresses with humor the complexities involved in even discussing race.
Tune into Stage & Studio for this special encore broadcast of Secret Asian Woman on KBOO 90.7FM at 11 am, Tuesday, March 8. Or listen online at kboo.fm.
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And always browse our archive of shows at the official Stage and Studio website
Secret Asian Woman was produced by Dmae Roberts, with editorial consultation by Catherine Stifter and damali ayo. Original music by Clark Salisbury. Additional music by Teresa Enrico and Portland Taiko. Interviews with Velina Hasu Houston, Rainjita Yang Geesler, Julie Thi Underhill and Patti Duncan. Funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council Individual Artist program. You can learn more by going to Dmae Roberts' website.
Highlights from the show
- Being mixed race can mean being a bridge walker. Rainjita Yang Geesler was often in the middle, acting as the peacekeeper between two cultures.
- Listen in as Patty Duncan and Dmae talk about the 1957 film Sayonara, in which a soldier falls in love with an Asian woman. Both wince as they remember a scene where the woman gets eyelid surgery to look more American.
- Julie Thi Underhill, whose mother is from Vietnam, remembers being called "Suzy Wong" by a family member. It's a derogatory reference to a character from a 1950s film about a prostitute. A friend of the family had no idea why she was being called "Suzy Wong". Underhill says: "that was my moment of redemption--there was seeing somebody actually even not get the racism because they're not racist."