Errmaaahgaaaaaawd


 

This girl didn’t go to UT, her first choice school. She was a good student, with some extracurriculars, so she went to… her second choice school? And now her case is being heard by the Supreme Court. Because those damned minorities took the spot that she deserved! And as a result she has a slightly mediocre job straight out of graduation! I usually strive to be articulate. But sometimes:

Errmaaahgaaaaaawd!

How often does it come down to this? If white people succeed, they worked hard, they say something like “I’m proud of my success. I wish that people of color would stop resenting the fact that I’m successful.” But then, cases like this somehow make it to the Supreme Court, and they’re all like “I know that I’m better than all the people of color who got in. It must be reverse racism.” What she got was a good education and a stable job.

I apologize, white people. I know it’s not all of you. To you all, I say, Thank you for remaining to be rational human beings. But this Abigail Fisher represent an attitude of entitlement that I find difficult to stomach.  To Abigail Fisher I say–

 

Hey, girl. You’re a little upset that you didn’t get your number one college choice, huh? Asian Americans know how that feels. Except that when we’re kept out of colleges, we’re above the standard for admissions, not below it (like you). That’s right. Asian Americans, on average, need higher SAT scores, GPAs, and more extracurriculars to be accepted.

If college admissions really go color blind, half of every college campus would be Asian American. And then we know that you’d be crying to the Supreme Court to institute affirmative action again, to stop the hordes of (American born) foreigners from taking over your country.  (This paragraph not backed up with statistics. Just the previous one.)

So shut your pie hole and let the Supreme Court pay attention to someone who’s actually been discriminated against.

See Asia Like Asians Do

Usually I don’t repost things from Angry Asian Man, because if you read my blog, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen his first. But this one I saw, and I was like “Oh? Oh. Oh!”

At first I thought the ad was copying some nonsensical approximation of… Korean? It wasn’t until I saw the accompanying pictures of people pulling their eyes into slits that I realized the gimmick.

 

I think we should all agree that giving this ad a headline like “OMG! Worst racism ever!” is a bit of an overstatement. Ignorance abounds. Enforcing stereotypes and acting like they’re fun is ignorant. And ultimately hurtful.

 

But let’s keep our heads on. What’s the best response to ignorance in a case like this? Should we acknowledge it and move on to more flagrant offenses? Is this a time to be mildly indignant? I remember being told on multiple occasions to ignore bullies. Ignore them and they’ll stop. I also clearly remember that being bad advice. It seems to me that bullies escalate until they get a response from their victims. What’s the solution then?

Brothers, Fools

People who live in DC have probably heard this, but perhaps its news to you all outside the District. DC is home to many delicious food trucks, many of which converge on my office building during lunch times. Fojol Brothers may be one of those, but I cannot judge their deliciousness. I judged their truck and they cannot win me back.

Unreasonable? Perhaps. But what else can one do in the face of such hipster ignorance?

The Fojol Brothers food trucks makes up fun, mystical countries, like Benethiopia and Merlindia:

Then, they dress up in fun, made up costumes that always include mustaches. True story. Notable costumes include turbans and once, when there was a woman working there, a belly dancing outfit. I went to take a picture of this guy serving food and he said “Can you wait for me to put on my mustache? I don’t want to get in trouble by being photographed without it.”:

And then these imaginative, fun loving entrepreneurs serve… Indian and Ethiopian food.

To take real culinary traditions, no matter how delicious, and repackage it as part of a fanciful, imaginary world implies that those ethnic foods, from real ethnic people, are part of a fanciful, imaginary world. Fake country, fake customs, real food? Renaming a country and calling it your own doesn’t make you creative. It makes you guilty of cultural appropriation. If this were an academic paper, it would be called plagiarism. If it were a geographic location is would be called colonialism. If it were a patent, it would be called stealing.

A few people got angry with the truck (racists!). Then some people defended it (overly-sensitives!). The owners themselves kind of apologized (We’re sorry a small minority of people are upset. But you’re wrong. We’re not offensive, we’re whimsical! And magical!). As with many of the minor crimes in this world, the cover up is worse than the crime itself. The ethnic mash-up make believe is questionable. Telling people that they’re in the wrong for being upset, that’s frustrating.

Same Old

I am constantly blown away at how often some conversations come up, no matter how many times we try to beat them down. Today, the conversation hinged around the question “What’s wrong with the model minority myth?”

What’s wrong with it is that it’s a massive generalization that obscures the nuanced realities of Asian American communities, encourages them to act and be certain ways instead of others, and makes interracial unity difficult. If you really want an answer to the question, Frank Wu’s book Yellow is more eloquent than I could be here. Or Don Lee’s fictional Yellow, although you’ll have to work a little harder with the fiction.

What interests me is why. Why did this question come up today, and why does it continue to crop up? I think the question that people really want to ask is “Why are you complaining? Aren’t you successful and isn’t that good enough?”

This past week, the question came from a young African American man, who wanted to know if the model minority myth actually affects my everyday life. The question he framed was “I’m a black man, and people see a dangerous, aggressive black man when they look at me. What do you have that’s comparable?” He could accept that we experienced classism and sexism, but racism? Asian Americans get off pretty easy on that count right?

Maybe it’s all the feminist theory I’ve been reading, but my racial experience can’t be separated from my other identities. It’s not white experience plus Asian experience equals mixed race experience, or Asian experience plus female experience equals Asian female experience. It’s an experience peculiar to the Asian American/mixed race/woman.

My racial experience is not one of people assuming I’m amazingly intelligent or a kung fu master. My racial story is one of assumed sexual submissiveness and availability. Since moving to DC, I’ve had a man at a public pool touch me, and then when confronted by the pool staff he claimed that he was flirting. I’ve had a homeless man grab my arm through an open bar window, and when I turned around in shock, he put his finger to his lips and whispered “Shh.” These are not isolated experiences. This is my lived reality, in which many men think that they can do what they like and I won’t say anything about it. The assumption of my availability and silence. Peculiar to the Asian American female, even when mixed.

Yellow Peril, Coming for You

I wish the world would be considerate enough to stop the offensive, racist crap, at least until I’m done with this quarter of grad school. I don’t have time for you, Pete Hoekstra. I really don’t.

So many things wrong with this ad– who thinks that a rural factory worker is getting rich off what used to be American jobs? Why does the background look oddly like Vietnam if you’re not trying to invoke anti-Vietnamese feelings too? Why is yellow peril such a perennial political favorite? Why did someone cast an Asian American woman speaking fake broken English? And why is she flirting with the camera?

Look At Me! More Stuff That Doesn’t Deserve My Time, But Gets It Anyway

Hey, Wesley Yang, thanks for your perspective on the heterosexual, East Asian heritage, male racial crisis. And thanks for framing your perspective as the big issue facing all Asian Americans. Let me summarize your ELEVEN PAGE article in a few sentences to save my readers the trouble of finishing it:

Asian Americans are good at academic achievement because they are raised to be hardworking followers. This doesn’t prepare them for the real (corporate) world because success in the real world is based on how white you can act. This leaves us with unhappy Asians who go to classes to learn how to pick up white women. Bagging white women and being promoted is called living the dream. If you don’t think this is fair, you should ditch the corporate ladder, start your own company, and make lots of money by being your own boss. Like that guy who started HotOrNot.com.

Now, let me add a few thoughts of my own because the only reason I talk about articles like this is to use them as an excuse to generate tags that trick people into reading my opinions– in an effort to assert his own individualism, Yang continues to perpetuate a false binary of East v. West where the East represents the traditional, emotionally suppressed, emasculated, overachieving automaton and the West represents the virile, socially adept, naturally successful alternative. He collapses the world into an America in which the only visible races are Asian and white. These oversimplified, homogenous racial identities are the basis for a worldview in which he is able to represent a superman who has transcended this racial crisis.

In other words, Yang acts like everyone around him thinks that you have to be either an unhappy, overachieving Asian American who follows Asian cram school culture or you have to learn to be white. Then he acts like he’s the only person who’s ever considered a third path, where you’re not Asian or white washed (even if he acts like a Twinkie), you just ARE. I’m so tired of this argument! Being Asian American is great. And liking your cultural heritage doesn’t mean being Amy Chua (see my post on her). And really people, WE HAVE BIGGER THINGS to talk about.

Let’s talk about homophobia and sexism and mental illness and undocumented immigration and compulsive gambling within our communities. Let’s look at racism and sexism and heterosexism and classism as causes of underrepresentation and disenfranchisement in society at large. Let’s talk about the self-loving, well-adjusted, Asian Americans of all ethnicities that are working to make this world a more just environment for our people to live in.

Let’s talk about that.

The Things We Do

If the Olympic committee made complaining an official competition, I could win a gold medal. It’s part of what makes my blog so interesting, right? That I’m constantly analyzing arguments, picking apart the possible meanings of situations, generally blowing things out of proportion, and then worrying if I’ve taken things too far.

As an expert complainer, I listen to other people complain a lot, too. And then complain about the way that they complain. Especially when it seems hypocritical. For example, the first time I met “Susan”, was the day she moved into Downtown Oakland. She dinged the car behind her trying to park and promptly threw her forehead against the steering wheel and screamed “I hate cities!” All I could think was “Then why are you going to live here?”, which wasn’t very nice of me because she worked very hard to get to know her neighbors and love the city from there on out. In another example, a girl I worked with “Jenny” bought a Mac and every time she couldn’t figure something out would push the computer away and complain “Stupid computer! I’m not a Mac person. They’re terrible!”. I thought to myself “Then why did you buy a Mac? Because they’re pretty?”

I don’t mean to make them look like stupid people, or to make myself look like a jerk (I am a jerk, probably). I’m wondering, which version of ourselves is true? If the things we say when we’re frustrated reveal the ugly sentiments we try to suppress in our better moods, which sentiments are more true? The ones we want to believe in or the ones that lurk in the backs of our minds?