February 06, 2020
The other night, at a posh theatre in the centre of Paris, I inadvertently perpetuated a tired old stereotype of the passive, submissive Asian when I failed to call out the French woman sat next to me, who spent the entire first act of the production with her turtleneck over her mouth.
To The Woman Who Recoiled From Me, Not All Asians Have Coronavirus
The incident happened in increments. Sometime near the beginning of the first act, she had pulled up the top of her sweater to cover her mouth and nose. Progressively throughout the play, she began to lean further and further away from me until she was practically sitting in her boyfriend’s lap. Under the pretext of snuggling up to her partner, she had twisted her body into a knotty pretzel with one sole aim: to get as far away from me as possible. 
During intermission, the pair packed up their affairs and moved to an entirely new section, robbing me of the chance to call her out.
By now, more than a month into the coronavirus outbreak, many in the Asian diaspora around the world have their own tale of discriminatory woe – be they of Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese or, like me, Korean descent.Almost overnight, Britons of Chinese descent who were born and raised in the UK have suddenly all become tourists from China.If anything, the outbreak has exposed the astonishing level of ignorance around Asian ethnicities as we’re all lumped together. Just as all brown people are terrorists following a terror attack and all black people carriers of ebola, every Asian in the diaspora from the UK, to the US, Canada and Australia, has suddenly become a Chinese citizen from Wuhan and incubator of the coronavirus.
And therein lies our complicated history.
In France where I currently live, fed-up Asians have adopted the Twitter hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus which means “I am not a virus.” First-generation Asians and expats like myself are uniting under the same banner regardless of our origins because, for the duration of the outbreak at least, we are all Chinese. And when you’re Chinese for even just a day, you get a small taste of just how deep anti-Chinese sentiment can run. Have you been affected by racism in the UK in the wake of the recent Coronavirus outbreak? Get in touch with your story by contacting ramzy.alwakeel@huffpost.com Which is why I am ashamed and saddened to see restaurateurs, businesses and shops in South Korea post signs banning Chinese customers. The same trend has been reported in Japan and Vietnam.
In continental Asia – the motherland for the diaspora – citizens are carrying out blanket discrimination against the Chinese in the same way we, the diaspora, are being targeted in our respective countries of residence.
In France (and I suspect this to be true in other parts of the world), the outbreak has exposed another uncomfortable truth: that within the model minority myth – a dangerous and misleading narrative that Asians are all hard workers, higher achievers and less likely to speak out compared to other minority groups – there exists another micro paradigm that stratifies Asian ethnicities into its own internal hierarchy. 
While the Japanese have their highest respect, the Chinese have their disdain. 
Given the racist narrative that tries to trace the coronavirus to Chinese cuisine, let’s use that as an example of how Asian ethnicities are perceived.
After covering the world of haute gastronomy in France for nearly a decade at my day job, it has become clear that Japanese chefs and Japanese cuisine enjoy a special kind of preferential status among the gastronomic elite compared to other Asian cuisines. Just last week, the Michelin guide admitted the first Japanese chef in France to the exclusive three-starred club. 
Anecdotally, I can’t tell you the number of times a French person has rhapsodised to me about Japan; how much they love the country; how much they love the culture and their cuisine. 
To be clear, I have no qualms about that. I was a Francophile and loved everything French. That’s why I moved here from Canada 10 years ago. 
But compare that to the jarringly racist language I’ve heard French people use towards the Chinese, incidentally one of their biggest tourism markets in terms of spending. Related... Coronavirus: UK Advises All British Nationals To Leave China It’s been more than five years now, but I will never forget the moment in the office kitchen when a former colleague used the word “dirty” while talking about the Chinese. She ostensibly thought I wouldn’t be offended as I’m Korean Canadian. But as the coronavirus outbreak has clearly shown, for many non-Asians, there’s little to separate a Korean person from a Chinese, and a Vietnamese person from a Filipino.
In such a short time, what remained of our status as integrated members of society has been wiped out. Almost overnight, Britons of Chinese descent who were born and raised in the UK and have never set foot in China; Canadians of Korean descent; and American citizens of Filipino descent have suddenly all become tourists from China.
I’ve lived through this before, in Toronto during the SARS epidemic in 2003. Then too, a group of teenagers boarded my subway car and coughed “SARS” in my direction. I called them out and managed to shame them into silence. 
I couldn’t do the same this time round, to the lady who seemed by all outward appearances, reasonable and cultured. But then again, I too, may have been too quick to judge. So this essay is dedicated to you, French lady who sat near the aisle in row 17 of the section amphitheatre bas at the Théâtre du Châtelet last week. You know who you are.
Vivian Song is a lifestyle editor based in Paris. Have you been affected by racism in the UK in the wake of the recent Coronavirus outbreak? Get in touch with your story by contacting ramzy.alwakeel@huffpost.com Related... What To Do If You’re Worried About Coronavirus Government To Charter Final Flight To Bring Brits Back From Wuhan Amid Coronavirus Outbreak Coronavirus: Hong Kong Medical Professionals Go On Strike Calling On Borders To Be Closed The Coronavirus Travel Advice, Explained: What To Do And Pack If You Have To Fly
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
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Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
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The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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