Angry Reader of the Week: Lori Kido Lopez

"Most importantly, I am always hungry."

Greetings, internet friends. As we do every week, it is time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Lori Kido Lopez.

Who are you?

I'm Lori Kido Lopez!

What are you?

Usually when people ask this question (and many strangers on the street certainly feel compelled to do so) they are curious about my ethnic background. Since we're among friends here, I'll tell you the answer -- I'm mixed race, Japanese (yonsei) and White. I'm also a feminist, a little sister, an auntie, a ramen enthusiast, an early adopter, a mentor, a writer. Most importantly, I am always hungry.

Where are you?

On the couch with my husband and scruffy dog Boba in Madison, WI, enjoying an absurd mid-April blizzard. When you live in the land of always winter, you really have to cultivate a robust sense of adventure and resilience when it comes to the weather. It also helps that I am obsessed with hot tea, fireplaces, and cardigan sweaters.

Where are you from?

I'm originally from Portland, OR. Even though I haven't lived there since I was 18, I will always have a deep affection for Douglas firs and Powell's Books. I've also lived for many years in Southern California, both for undergrad at Pomona College (chirp 47!) and grad school at USC. I miss Los Angeles all the time and love talking about how great it is. It's the best, seriously.

What do you do?

I'm a professor of media studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Basically that means that a couple of days a week I am giving a lecture about hegemony to 250 students, and the rest of the time I am sitting in a coffee shop working on my laptop. A lot of my research has been on Asian Americans who have organized to improve representation in the media. I even wrote a book about it, called Asian American Media Activism! My goal has been to showcase the long history of activism in this area, as well as to point to the wide range of folks who have been working in this area but don’t get a lot of recognition. Here's a report I recently co-authored on how Asian Americans on Twitter are mad about being underrepresented in news media.

Honestly, it's kind of frustrating how often we end up returning to these same old boring issues of representation -- both because the problems persist, and because so many people are unaware of this history. I hope my research will help us move the conversation forward! More recently I've been studying Hmong American media, and thinking about how small communities are using digital media in innovative, culturally-specific ways.

What are you all about?

Most of my time is spent on research and teaching and going to meetings, but I also try to contribute to social justice in my local communities. In Madison I've been lucky to get involved with an amazing organization called Freedom, Inc. that focuses on building power in Madison's Black and Southeast Asian communities by working with youth, queer folks, women and gender non-conforming folks, and elders. I also work with a lot of fantastic student activists, like the group of Asian Americans on campus who are fighting for a cultural center.

Obviously I'm all about media too (and I don't believe in shaming people for their media fandoms!). In terms of television, I am currently obsessed with Westworld, Game of Thrones, and Legion. I greatly enjoy my fantasy Bachelor league, but my sister always beats me in it. I have been known to watch any show featuring an Asian American; luckily there are now too many to keep up with. I am extremely dedicated to documentaries, and love getting the chance to invite Asian American documentary filmmakers to come screen their films in Madison. I am constantly listening to podcasts and can't get enough of long-form narrative nonfiction podcasts. My ringtone is currently the theme song from Serial.

What makes you angry?

Ah yes, anger. I love anger -- it's generative, it inspires action and change, it's the reason we had such a thriving Asian American blogosphere for a while (see my research on this topic). Anger at injustices and systematic oppression has certainly played a formative role in my life, motivating me both to study activism and become an activist. One of my goals as a teacher is to get my students angry too, because once you start to recognize racism and misogyny and homophobia everywhere, you should be enraged!

There are so many different kinds of anger, and it can do such different things. It can be super pleasurable to get worked up about the little things -- like, why does anyone eat Red Delicious apples when there are so many other varieties of better apples out there? Why do some people make such a big deal about their birthdays, no one cares about your birthday but you! And stop telling me that I'll enjoy looking young someday in the future, #Ilooklikeaprofessor right now. A good snark session among friends can be extremely validating and bonding.

But there are obviously destructive and cruel kinds of anger too. Any Asian American who has reached a modicum of fame has experienced antiracist trolls and hate speech, and it has an emotional cost. So many activists and cultural workers get burnt out. Moreover, anger can be unsustainable, and it can naturally evolve into something else that is productive and meaningful. It's ok to not be angry all the time too.

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