To close Asian American Pacific Islander Month, Awkwafina and Margaret Cho released a new song, “Green Tea,” together. Awkwafina and Cho are not without faults, but damn … “Green Tea” is making me thirsty.
Awkwafina is the stage name for Nora Lum, a second-generation Asian American emcee. Her parents were both first-generation Americans; her father’s family came from China and her mother’s from Korea. Awkwafina grew up in Queens — a lot of her work is New York-centric. A true millennial, she learned how to rap and produced her own music using Garage Band on her computer when she was 17.
Awkwafina doesn’t just make music; she also has a satellite radio talk show called Tawk and has been in a few films. Most recently, she appeared in Neighbors 2: Sorority, which centers on a sorority wreaking havoc. It was hailed as feminist, but sadly it just reads as a bunch of (mostly) white girls reciting White Feminist 101 rhetoric, which makes sense given that it was written by a bunch of white dudes. It was a nice try, but maybe the next time they write a “feminist” movie, they can bring in actual women to write it — like the incredibly funny Awkwafina.
“Green Tea” reclaims the objectification so many Asian women experience. However, the emcee is not without fault. Lines in some of her other songs are ablelist and fatphobic, which I hope she outgrows. Awkwafina is a brilliant young artist that has so much going on for her. She doesn’t shy away from topics about objectification and oppression — why continue the cycle by oppressing others?