We Need to Talk About Yellowface

Katie Gee Salisbury
ZORA
Published in
11 min readMay 22, 2023

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confronting Hollywood’s racist past

Mary Pickford in Madame Butterfly (1915)

When the topic of yellowface is broached, most Asian Americans can readily recall the insulting images of Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) or David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine (a role that was originally pitched by and for Bruce Lee) in the TV series Kung Fu (1972). But this demeaning practice has been around for…

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Katie Gee Salisbury
ZORA

Author of NOT YOUR CHINA DOLL, a new biography of Anna May Wong, out now from Dutton and Faber. Learn more: www.notyourchinadoll.com