Letters to the Editor

Letters: ‘Miss Saigon’ stereotypes Asians for profit

Eva Noblezada and Samuel Li Weintraub in a scene from “Miss Saigon.” “Miss Saigon” will be presented at the Durham Performing Arts Center Jan. 22-27, 2019.
Eva Noblezada and Samuel Li Weintraub in a scene from “Miss Saigon.” “Miss Saigon” will be presented at the Durham Performing Arts Center Jan. 22-27, 2019. Matthew Murphy

Show stereotypes Asians

I was shocked and deeply disturbed to hear that DPAC has chosen to bring the Orientalist musical “Miss Saigon” to Durham.

From its original premiere, “Miss Saigon” has been met with protests from the Asian and Asian-American community about its problematic imperialist themes and perpetuation of Orientalist stereotypes. DPAC’s decision to nevertheless showcase it demonstrates either a shameful ignorance of the destructive history of Orientalist stereotyping, or a willful disregard for those of us for whom Orientalism is not a form of entertainment.

As an Asian-American woman myself, the objectification and stereotyping of Asian-American women as powerless sex objects, as depicted in this musical, is particularly familiar and noxious. I urge any who are unfamiliar to inform themselves about the historical roots of the harmful ideology and imagery this musical employs for entertainment value (a particularly accurate essay can be found on David Mura’s blog).

I hope DPAC will acknowledge their fault, cancel the shows, and refuse to allow such deeply hurtful and problematic ideology to be showcased for profit.

Heidi Sun Schreiber

Durham

Where can Sam stand best?

The UNC-CH campus has many parts, including some that are not contiguous with the main campus. In fact, it has a marine lab 175 miles from the main Chapel Hill campus.

Why can’t there be a branch of UNC-CH campus at a Civil War site such as Bennett Place, 12 miles away? Then, Silent Sam could move to that part of campus in memory of the soldiers who were actually camped at that location and also stand within the confines of North Carolina law.

I am sure that a UNC-CH branch campus at Bennett Place could use a $5.3 million capital building investment and an increase of $800,000/year in operating budget.

Ed Levin

Chapel Hill

Helping African children

Amina’s Gift will hold its second annual holiday market from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, 15 at 52 Dogwood Acres Drive in Chapel Hill.

Since last year’s popular event, two more shipping containers have arrived filled with more African artworks, ranging in size from massive to handheld stone sculpture including stone bird baths, also wooden sculpture, home furnishings. and colorful beaded animal sculptures — imagine a herd of elephants, tower of giraffes, or dazzle of zebras in varying sizes!

All sales support Amina’s Gift (aminasgift.org/), which funds the medical and educational needs of African children.

Amina’s Gift was founded by Terrence Brayboy of Chapel Hill, a Lumbee Indian, who upon becoming an emergency department physician at Wake Med, began traveling to developing countries and collecting the art of indigenous people. He fell in love with the stone sculpture of Zimbabwe and the people in the villages where the art was created.

In such a village, he saw a shy little girl too frail to walk as he gifted children with shoes. He learned Amina was HIV-positive, but unable to receive free medication in a neighboring village due to lack of transportation. She died a few days later.

“Amina was the inspiration for me to seek a way to make sure the kids were able to get to school, to get shoes to wear, and to get to clinic if they needed care,” Brayboy said. The nonprofit NGO, Amina’s Gift, was started to honor her. Proceeds from the holiday gift sales last year and a 2018 spring sale have sponsored the educational needs of 62 children.

Valarie Schwartz

Chapel Hill

A book worth reading

I read a book that a lot of people should read. The book’s name is “Dear Martin.”

The main character gets shot, and his best friend is also shot and killed by police because he was driving with loud music. The cop was not in uniform and he pulled them over. They tried to turn the music down, and the police officer fired the gun at them.

People can learn from that in this world. For the cops: don’t play with people and pull someone over for loud some music when you’re off duty. For the people that are going read this: don’t ride with loud music.

Isaiah Moore

Durham

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