So for the past week I’ve been submitting articles obsessively to Medieval POC’s Math and Science Week. (I’m the contributor aseantoo.)
At first, I thought I’d be contributing info about the usual suspects - canonically great Asian scientists like Avicenna, Li Shizhen and Srinivasa Rajamunan. And that’d be important - there are whole canons of great scientists in the Middle East, China and India going back for thousands of years.
But then I realised that this’d be kind of reinforcing the stereotype that Asian men are all great at math and science. That demoralises girls and women; that demoralises Black and Latin@ and Native guys; that reinforces bullying against Asians in the US (who’re already disproportionately bullied).
So I instead I wrote about the Ming Dynasty woman doctor Tan Yunxian, the 18th century Nigerian mathematician Al-Kishnawi, the Aboriginal Australian inventor David Unaipon. These are folks whom liberal science nerds (at least outside of Australia) haven’t heard about - folks I hadn’t heard about until I did some digging. But they’re part of our history of science too.
And yet I did post some info about a Chinese man, based on a request from one of Medieval POC’s fans. And I discovered a really moving comment in a reblog:
aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:
Xu Xing / 徐星
Photographs by Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY
One of your fans, Cometkins, asked if you knew about any POC paleontologists.
The world’s most prolific discover of dinosaurs is a Chinese guy who’s been called a real-life Indiana Jones.
He’s discovered at least 32 new species of dinosaurs. Also furthered loads of new theories about their connections with modern birds.
I also find him pretty damn cute.
Why doncha come and dust off my feathers, baby. :)
this is pretty much my entire childhood’s dream. seeing this, in a way, makes me feel like “i” have realized it.
I mean… wow.
An (I’m assuming) Asian guy in the West will of course grow up knowing that Asians can be scientists. But he still won’t see himself in one of the “cool sciences” like sciences like dino-hunting…
So just seeing a middle-aged Chinese guy with a set of Nanyangosaurus bones makes a difference. It does a body good to see a body like ourselves living out our dreams.
Maybe it helped that I was sexually objectifying Xu Xing. Though the truth is, he does not always photograph well.