Secret Asian Man

Secret Asian Man

"Secret Asian Man" is a syndicated comic strip written and drawn by Tak Toyoshima and published in "Boston's Weekly Dig", "Metro Silicon Valley", "San Jose Mercury News", "RedEye", "Nichi Bei Times", "AsianWeek", "Georgia Asian Times", "The Everett Herald", and on the internet.

The strip has appeared weekly since 1999 and covers the author's biography and Asian American issues. "Secret Asian Man" often centers its discussion around what it means to be "Asian American," as well as other race and ethnic-related issues. Toyoshima's work is often hailed for its stereotype and racist breaking content.Fact|date=September 2007 Its title is a pun referring to the song "Secret Agent Man" or the TV series "Secret Agent Man". "Secret Asian Man" was picked up for syndication by United Feature Syndicate and began its daily run in July 16, 2007.


All issues of "Secret Asian Man" feature Osamu "SAM (Secret Asian Man)" Takahashi, who is a Japanese American artist modeled after the author. SAM has three major friends: Richie, a white man; Charlie, a black man; and Grace Patterson, an East Asian American who was adopted by white parents. Along with them, SAM also has a cynical and sarcastic spiky-haired cousin named Simon. SAM's wife Marie is Italian, and they have a son named Shintaro.

Asian American issues

The comic strip deals with Asian American related issues. The comic strip believes Asian American history is not understood completely by the United States at large. SAM believes McDonald's "I'm Asian" advertising was misguided, because SAM identifies as an "Asian American" instead of just "Asian". SAM believes the Asian American entertainment awards superfluous, because Asian Americans should get entertainment awards in the regular entertainment awards ceremony. SAM pretends he's an Asian fob with no English language skills to avoid talking to someone which brings up the issue of Asian Americans being perceived as foreign by some people.

SAM portrays the atmosphere of pan-Asian restaurants as a comical combination of elements from different Asian cultures. SAM believes Asian Americans are the targets of spam e-mail because they are marked with Asian last names. SAM would like to see more movies with an exclusive Asian American cast. Similarly, SAM was thrilled to see AZN TV which was a pan-Asian television network. SAM believes the United States' media lowered its standards for respectable portrayal of corpses during the Asian Tsunami. SAM would like to see more Asian male porn stars and anchormen with women of different races. He also would like to see more Asians in sci-fi flicks. SAM meditates over the relationship between an Asian identity and an American one. The Asian part of his identity he considers practically meaningless, because of the diversity and distinctness of people it includes.

East Asian American specific issues

Many of the racial issues labeled under the umbrella of "Asian American" are in reality only East Asian American issues or themes. It portrays whites as grouping all East Asian Americans as "Chinese Americans". The comic strip portrays the magazine "Oriental Trading Company" to be non-Asian in nature and highly commercialized. SAM discusses the identity issues faced by Korean adoptees. SAM mentions the way East Asian Americans in United States cinema have been historically portrayed negatively. SAM mentions Hollywood's inconsistent casting of different East Asian ethnic groups for East Asian roles which feature a specific ethnic group. SAM is very proud to be of East Asian ancestry.

SAM questions whether other cultures have an equivalent to interconnectedness of Buddhism and Shaolin martial arts. SAM is also proud of chop sticks, East Asian martial arts, anime and East Asian noodles. SAM believes black men and white men are considered better sexual partners to white women by Americans than East Asian men. SAM believes William Hung positively represents East Asian Americans because he is gutsy.

Japanese American specific issues

Many racial issues are Japanese American or Japanese in nature. A commercialized product mentioned is the Newman's Own teriyaki sauce. Someone stereotypes SAM as being knowledgeable about manga, anime and martial arts in a comic strip due to his Japanese ancestry. SAM brings up the unfairness of World War II hysteria and Japanese internment camps. He lists funny examples of English to Japanese mistranslations in Japan. SAM highlights how some Chinese Americans, Vietnamese Americans and Korean Americans are racist against people of Japanese descent, because of the atrocities of World War II. SAM portrays Japanese Americans to have an innate knowledge and preference for all things Japanese. SAM believes Japanese Americans are stereotyped as ninjas, geishas and Buddhists. SAM celebrated the passing of the Japanese American actor Pat Morita. SAM considers both the atom bombs dropped on Japan at the end of WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor to be cowardly.

Universal racial issues

The comic strip also deals with broader racial issues. "Secret Asian Man" deals with the practice of racial stereotyping. In one comic strip, SAM states he is against the practice of racial stereotyping. One of SAM's beliefs is that the United States should give reparations to people for past injustices. He uses the example of Mexican Americans who were deported under the Mexican Repatriation Program. Another of SAM's ideals is that the United States' movie roles which are not race-specific should be given to non-whites more often. SAM highlights the way ethnic groups put people of great accomplishments on a pedestal if they are of the same ethnic background. SAM believes race-centered organizations are usually too narrow in their scope and exclude others, creating the racism they seek to stop. "Secret Asian Man" also remarks on the way people only rally to fight racism when it is against their specific group of people. Events of global unrest, from SAM's point of view, bring all people together and dissolve the racial barriors between them. SAM believes sporting events which pit different nations against each other lead to racism. SAM also thinks white is considered normative in discussions on race in the United States and the term "ethnic" is only applied to non-white ethnicities. SAM portrays racially-based affirmative action to be racist and unfair.

ee also


Further reading

* Interview with Toyoshima in
* Interview with Toyoshima in []
* Interview with Toyoshima in []
* Interview with Toyoshima in []

External links

* [ The Complete Secret Asian Man Archives]
* [ Secret Asian Man official site]

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