the rookie professor


Hello all! It’s been a long time. I’ve been out of commission because of some employment transitions that I now feel comfortable sharing. In a nutshell: I taught at Sonoma State University this past school year. It was a blast and I continue to feel blessed by the opportunity to have been at this awesome, underrated university. Yes, I taught during a tumultuous academic year that included the NorCal fires, where members of the campus community lost everything. At some point, I’ll write about what it was like to teach at that time.

The larger piece of info that I have been holding on to is this: after six years of teaching as a lecturer (ASU) and visiting faculty member (SSU), I am happy to share that next month, I will be starting a tenure-track position at San Jose State University. How I managed to get the job is a long story, one that is best heard over coffee. For now, just know that my hire is part of this initiative. I’m both nervous and excited about the transition. Friends and family know how difficult it has been getting a TT post in the bay area. This job allows me to come back home and be with friends, family, and my partner. I remain grateful and ready!

As I prepare for my new position, I’m learning that I am a rookie in many ways. For example, San Jose State University has an incredible support system that are helping me get settled in. Most recently, I was asked about my computer preferences. I responded that I am a MAC user, that I’d like a desktop, and I’m not picky. Previously, I’ve inherited computer hand-me-downs, so I assumed as such. When they asked me to look at the apple site and choose my computer (I was given a budget, of course!), I nearly died! After responding with a link to a mid-range desktop, the computer person wrote back and suggested I get a better computer – one that will last me for at least three years, and that I shouldn’t feel guilty about getting a good system. With that, I scoured the apple site again and opted for a desktop with a larger screen and a more powerful system. I also ordered the ergo-compliant keyboard and mouse (as opposed to bringing the one I have from home to the office). Sigh. I’m not used to these perks. When I was hired at ASU, I was able to choose an accent wall color. I thought that was the highlight of my career. A snazzy computer that someone else ordered and set up for me?! How did I get so lucky?!


I mention this silliness on my part because it tells you where public school educators come from. I’m not used to having access to cool things at my job. At SSU, our lovely office manager thought it was silly of me to feel guilty for ordering purple pens. (I explained that in a previous university job, I got called in to the manager’s office for spending $6 on pencils.) My reactions and expectations are very different from people who work in the tech/corporate world, where simple luxuries are expected (and not always appreciated). My friends that work in tech/corporate expect top of the line computer systems, outfitted with proper accessories. They expect extra treats such as free meals, entertainment, and gym memberships, along with hearty expense accounts. As a public school educator, I can’t wrap my head around it. This makes me sad because I expect second class treatment, even though the work educators do is infinitely important. Admittedly, I have it good as a professor. There are severely underpaid K-12 teachers who have to pay for school supplies out of pocket! (sigh; this is another rant for another time…) The long and short of it is, when it comes to embracing job perks (even having access to the necessary tools for work), I remain a total rookie.

Maraming salamat for tuning in,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA

images found here and here


The Tiger Hunter

Recently, the Huz and I caught the short run of The Tiger Hunter, a film directed by Lena Khan. (For an article about Khan and making The Tiger Hunter, go here. For those of you who don’t already know, I watch a lot of film – especially smaller, independent films. I believe that if you want to see more diversity in Hollywood and popular media, then you have to do your best to support media that reflects those sensibilities. I was struck by her take on an immigrant story set in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The story was inspired by her father’s story, and Khan set out to create a film where the main character is Muslim. That she is one of a small handful of Muslim women filmmakers, makes this film a definite accomplishment. It seems the film’s theater distribution is limited, so please check out their Facebook page for screening information.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that the cast that includes Dani Purdi, Rizwan Manji, Jon Heder, and Karen David, is amazing. The story is very heartening, and serves as a reminder of the optimism one carries and humanizes the hardships that many experience upon immigrating to the U.S. Though we disagree on the film’s ending, the Huz and I were glad to have made our way to San Francisco to watch this. I do wish that it had a broader distribution. If there is a screening near you, please be sure to buy your tickets and check this out!

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA

oh, Dove….

Dove racist ad

NB: The image was found here.

The internet went crazy this weekend when Dove (you know, that company behind the real beauty campaign) released a gif that features a Black woman transforming into a white woman (who transforms into a presumably Asian? woman). If course, the social media brigade wasn’t having it, and rightfully so. Since the uproar, the ad has since been removed and Dove has issued an apology. You can read the details here.

Confession: I’m never surprised when something like this happens. When you study and consume media as much as I do, it’s a given that people behind advertising and media making are by and large, white (I mean this in a holistic sense). That, coupled with general ignorance about race in this country leads us to moments like this time and time again. Ads like this are not shocking. They’re old news, used to perpetuate and give permission to everyday racist practices.

Before you start probing me, let me be clear: (1) We do not live in a post-racial society. Race and racism still matter. (2) Until we fully understand and acknowledge the historical legacies of white supremacy which this country was founded on, we cannot even begin to entertain the idea of a post-racial society. (Yeah. You read that right. These legacies include the genocide of indigenous peoples, enslavement of people from Africa, colonial subjugation of basically every person who comes from places the west has colonized… I could go on, but let’s just start there.) (3) Companies can apologize all they want for the faux pas. For anyone who has worked in media, you know that these images are vetted heavily. That the ad would still make it to distribution illustrates my first two points. (4) We live in a world were capitalism reigns. Bad publicity is still publicity. I wouldn’t be surprised if the release of the ad was intentional, just for the hullaballoo of it all. (5) There is no moral code in a capitalist world.

Yeah. Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day, folks!

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA


Last night, my husband and I had the pleasure of watching Justin Chon’s latest film, Gook. An independent film that is currently screening in smaller theaters across the country, Gook takes place during the first day of the 1992 L.A. riots. Since 2017 marks the twenty five year anniversary of the riots, Gook is an important, timely film that centers on a young girl, Kamilla, and her friendship with two Korean American brothers, Eli and Daniel.

As an Ethnic Studies scholar, inter-ethnic and inter-racial conversations are very important to me. When the riots happened, I was in high school. The images of the burning buildings, the Korean shop owners protecting their stores with guns, the violence, and looting still burn in my memory. Other than shock and odd fascination, I cannot recall any substantive reactions from my sixteen year-old self. I sort of knew about Korean/Black racial tensions at the time. It would be years until I would be in grad school and re-visit the riots and what they continue to mean to the country’s history of race relations.

This post is not meant to be a film review. Rather, I’d like to simply urge you to watch it at your local theater. Justin Chon does a great job at capturing the relationship between these characters, and how their interactions are reflected in the larger backdrop of the riots and race relations in Los Angeles. (Confession: After seeing Chon’s directorial debut in Man Up, I had serious doubts about Gook. Luckily, reading various reviews helped me overcome those ill feelings.) Simone Baker, the film’s lead, is fantastic as Kamilla. David So, who is most notable for his comedy, also treats us to a commanding and touching performance. For your reference, feel free to peruse the videos below for more on Gook.

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA

Gook Trailer

Justin Chon Interview on BUILD Series

Justin Chon Interview on Kore Asian Media

Gook Cast Interview

PSA: Shades of Prejudice – Call for Essays


Note: This photo was island-style borrowed from Dr. Nikki Khanna’s professional website.

Hello All!
I want to share some exciting news. For those of you who have been looking for materials on colorism and Asian Americans, you have likely run into Is Lighter Better? Skin-Tone Discrimination Among Asian Americans. While Paul, the incredible contributors, and I remain proud of the book, it still stands as one of very few books on the topic.

This is why I am so excited to share Dr. Nikki Khanna’s call for essays for her upcoming anthology, Shades of Prejudice. Please see below for the short announcement and appropriate links! (Yes, kindly share with your networks.)

Hi, I am looking for Asian American women (including multiracial women with Asian ancestry!) to contribute essays for an upcoming book with NYU Press on “colorism.” Colorism is found in many Asian American communities and is phenomenon whereby light skin is privileged over dark (see link below for more info on submissions).

I am specifically looking for women to share their personal experiences with colorism – how has your skin shade (whether light, dark, or somewhere in-between!) influenced your life? Essays will be reviewed on a rolling basis until October 31st.

PLEASE help me spread the word by sharing this on your site!!!! I would be very grateful for your help! And if you are Asian American and a woman, please consider submitting an essay!

For more information, go here. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
Millbrae, CA



A few weeks ago, the Huz and I had the honor of visiting Virgie Tovar as she did an informal run through of this TedTalk. I’m SO EXCITED to share this talk with you!

There is a lot here that resonates with me. Coming from a family that places a high value on beauty, being fat always meant that I would not fully participate in certain family celebrations (e.g. wedding parties) or that any teasing directed my way was somehow seen as okay because I deserved the scrutiny. A lifetime of paralyzing comments can often lead you to believe (as Virgie points out) that life begins later. If I could do life over again, I would wish that someone gave me the following advice a lot sooner:

You shouldn’t wait one more day, one more pound. The next time that you look in the mirror and you have the impulse to judge the body you see, or you look at another person and you have the impulse to judge their body, remember that childlike sense of wonder. After all, you have nothing to lose but your shame.

– Virgie Tovar

It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I learned that waiting for later is absolutely useless. Kudos, Virgie! Many thanks for your words.

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
Fremont, CA

Same Family, Different Colors


I still have to pick up my copy of Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families by Lori L. Tharps. Years ago, she interviewed me for this project and I was so ecstatic when it came out late last year. Confession: That interview is what inspired me to start this blog. So thank you, Lori!

Yes, I’m slow to get my copy. But I did want you all to know about this fabulous and important book. For those of you who have read it, I’d love to know what you think!

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
Tempe, AZ

Red & Yellow, Black & Brown


Hello Everyone!

I greatly apologize for my negligence with respect to this website. A LOT has happened in 2017 and when I finally have the chance to catch my breath, I’ll update you and let you know all about the craziness of my life, and how that will impact the future of this blog. (It’s good news, I promise!) For now, I want to let you know that my newest book project has just been released! I am very fortunate to have worked with Rudy P. Guevarra and Paul Spickard on Red & Yellow, Black & Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies. You can purchase it directly from Rutgers University Press here.  (Pssst. For 30% off, please use discount code: 02AAAA16. Shhh. You didn’t hear that from me.)

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
Tempe, AZ

unfair and lovely


Photo series, “Unfair and Lovely” was created by Pax Jones.

When your work is on colorism and skin color hierarchy, it’s always a treat when you find gems like this – especially when it comes from the people in your world. Recently, several people sent and/or tagged me in this (and other related stories) story on Facebook. What started as a photo series evolved into a hashtag campaign, #unfairandlovely. I highly recommend that you check out your social media outlets and contribute (respectfully) to the conversation.

While most of the current photos under #unfairandlovely feature South Asian women, I do hope to see people from other racial and ethnic backgrounds represent what it is to be #unfairandlovely. In particular, I am curious to see how #unfairandlovely is represented in the LGBTQ community. Though social media has its limits, I also see its potential to inspire conversation (which will hopefully lead to action) about these issues.

Kudos to you, Pax Jones, for creating art that makes a difference!

Maramang Salamat,

Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.

Tempe, AZ