what I mean when I say I hate white people
- the most important thing to remember is that I don’t actually hate white people. I just hate White People.
- I hate white people because it’s so fucking easy for them - easy for them to be racist and easy for them to point their fingers at other, ‘more racist’ white people, while asking me if, you know, they did well, waiting expectantly for me to give them a fucking honorary-POC get-out-of-jail-free card for the next time they make a joke out of my culture and my history.
- the expectation that I have to teach them about my culture, about my anger as an Asian American woman, and why am I so offended anyway when they ask me how to tell the difference between Asians? Why is it so offensive to perpetuate stereotypes if they’re ~*true*~?
- and if I don’t explain my anger calmly, in a way that makes it clear this is directed towards those other, actually racist white people and not the person I’m speaking to, who is clearly an enlightened exception to the rule who just didn’t know the proper terminology, then I am an angry, bitter, reverse racist, spitting seething POC bitch and I surely can’t expect people to listen to me if I can’t even talk civilly!
- oh but wait DO I EVEN COUNT AS A REAL POC? I’M PRETTY LIGHT SKINNED, RIGHT? ASIANS ARE TAKING OVER THE UCS, RIGHT? WE’RE PRETTY WELL OFF, RIGHT? THE MODEL MINORITY ISN’T JUST A MYTH, RIGHT? Don’t fuck with me, I know what you think and I see your skepticism, and, you know what, if other PoC want to debate this with me, I’m all ears - I am well-aware of the racism within the Asian American community and the tensions between Asian Americans (especially East Asians/light skinned Asians) and other communities but, white people, you, of all people, do not get to make that decision for me.
- white people having. it. so. easy. I have lived and will live every day of my life always hating myself a little bit even though I have finally learned how to love myself and cut the bullshit, I will always remember that, to some white person, I am not good enough, not smart enough, and definitely never American enough.
- I also hate white people for making me hate myself for the majority of my life thus far - I have learned to always second-guess myself, to always undervalue my worth because that’s always the safer route, to soften my anger when I always need it sharp, to believe and buy into, even for a second, the stereotypes, to find it hard to believe in myself, because my race has always meant everything. I will always know I amAsian American thanks to every fucking white person who has asked me where I’m from, no, they mean, where I’m really from.
- for worrying that I’m not being fun, that I’m being the party pooper of the privileged white kid party, that when I don’t find mildly racist and classist humor offensive, it’s because there’s something wrong with me, I am too serious about hating white people for me to ever truly be funny, because caring about issues is so UNCOOL and God, when I do my “Asian thing” - it’s just so awkward, you know? Everyone at the table feels awkward, why can’t I just let it go? It’s not like there’s real racism here or anything, right?
- And, God, just - white people. Having it so easy.
today’s anxiety attack was brought to me by this asshattery IRL.
[tw: perpetual foreigner stereotype] An Incident
Colorblinding I luv yew
This morning, there was a woman in the elevator with me as I headed to my office. I’ve never met her before. We make small talk, and she was friendly. We get off the elevator and walk in the same direction.
Then she asks me, “Where are you from?”
I get that a lot because I’m Asian-American and I’m not a native New Yorker.
I say, “California” because I really am from California. I grew up there.
Then she says, “No, no, where are you really from? Where are your parents from?”
Excuse me? What?
Now, here’s the thing. She wasn’t being racist, or malicious, or anything like that. She seemed geniunely interested and asked nicely. She really sincerely did not know that question can be offensive.
I tell her, and she replies, “Oh, I’m from Montreal.”
She went into her office after that and I went on my way, but it got me thinking.
Even being in a diverse city like NYC, this random woman still viewed me as someone who didn’t originally come from this country. Now, look, I get a lot of racist shit, usually from some drunk guy, so I don’t let the comments bother me. But today was different. I truly think this random woman did not know the non-offensive way to ask me where I was “really from.”
This incident reminds me of the stories the Jeremy Lin coverage generated, and how the Asian American Journalists Association had to put out a document to the media about the difference between Asian-American & Asian, Jeremy Lin & Yao Ming, and Taiwan & China.
I try to see the best in everyone, I believe that almost everyone has good intentions, and I try not to let this city’s craziness get to me. Today with this random woman, I choose to view her question as she was simply curious and didn’t know the right way to ask me where I was “really from.”
UGHHHHH. A couple of times I’ve actually said to people, “I know what you’re ACTUALLY asking, so just ask it.” Or sometimes they’ll say, “No, where are your parents from?” To which I truthfully say, “San Francisco and Tracy,” or just “also California.”
Of course, it depends on the person and the tone of the conversation at the time, but generally people get the hint.
(What I thought was interesting was while on a cruise in Australia back in 2005, was that when people asked this, they were Australians who had never actually met an Asian American who wasn’t from Hawaii. And I was happy to indulge/educate. It wasn’t that they doubted our American-ness. They were just genuinely intrigued. North Americans from/in North America, you should know better.)
Because being Asian in America means being a perpetual foreigner.
i have this happen quite a lot. i feel like the appropriate response for me should be like this:
“where are you really fr-“
“kentucky stop asking this shit it’s racist”
A Slanted view (my fight with the USPTO for API rights)
This is reposted from my original article at yomyomf.com:
I play bass in what’s often known as the first and only all-Asian American dance rock band in the world. We perform at many of the largest Asian cultural festivals in North America. We’ve been featured in and on over 1,500 radio stations, websites, magazines, and tv shows talking about the Asian American experience. As I mention in my bio above, my band members and I often facilitate workshops on cultural diversity, racism, and stereotypes about Asian and Asian American culture. In fact, when you look up information on the band, it’s hard to find anything that doesn’t associate us with Asian American culture, which is why when the U.S Trademark and Patent Office said that our band was disparaging to persons of Asian descent, I was rather shocked.
Let me elaborate.
The name that I and my cohort of pan-Asian Americans chose for the band is The Slants. We deliberately chose this outdated, generational term to inject pride into Asian American culture. Because of the broad support that we’ve had from APA’s – not only from media and blogs, but lifelong activists who are aware of the sensitivities of the community at large, we never expected the USPTO to have an issue when we filed for a trademark on the band’s name.
The Trademark Office doesn’t allow terms that are deemed to be disparaging to be approved. In order for them to reject an application for a trademark on these grounds, they have to show that a substantial composite of the referenced group to be offended by the word.
When we responded to the Trademark Office with evidence of support from the community, we included dozens of examples of Asian Pacific American media supporting our band. Well known lifelong APA activists wrote letters of support for our use of the name. We also showed other examples of Asian Americans using the term “Slant” in a positive manner, such as major API Film Festival “Slant”and Chicago-based TV show “The Slant.”
So what kind of evidence did they bring to demonstrate the collected outrage of APA’s who are offended by our name?
First, they cited UrbanDictionary.com. Then, they found an anonymous post on a message board from someone who said they didn’t like our name. After that, they put in photographs of Miley Cyrus making a slant-eye gesture. They sent this to us along with a rejection letter that said the vast support we demonstrated from the APA community was “laudable” but not influential.
This is what angers me the most: the US Trademark Office decided that anonymous wiki sources mattered more than the voice of Asian Americans. Why does a government agency that has no connection with APA’s have the right to dictate what is appropriate for our community? Why don’t we have the right to decide for ourselves?
Our plight reminds me of another case. You might know of the NFL team, The Redskins. The litigation over their name has been going on since 1992 except in that case, the Trademark Office continues to defend their name despite formal objections, legal challenges, and law suits from Native Americans who find the term “Redskins” to be an offensive racial slur. Again, a government agency that has no connection with the referenced community is making decisions as to what is appropriate or offensive for them. In our case, they deny our trademark in the absence of any valid complaints from Asian Americans. With Native Americans, they continue to defend “Redskins” even in the face of formal objections.
The role of government shouldn’t include deciding what a group can define themselves as. That right should belong to the community itself. While I would love to win the trademark to protect my band’s name – and frankly, to end the process because it’s been a long and expensive one – this case is bigger than The Slants. This will help determine what other minority groups are going to do in the future.
So let me wrap up by saying to the Asian American community: Thank you for your support over the years. Our love for spreading API culture drives us to continue what we do. If you would be so kind to donate a few minutes of your time and join us in this fight, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org (or tumblr @aslantedview)
And To the Trademark Office: Thank you for being offended on my behalf. You might not know this, but API’s have been a part of U.S history since 1750, when Filipinos began settling here. We have helped built this country, from the railroads to shaping civil rights laws for all citizens. And believe it or not, we’re grown up enough now to decide what’s right for ourselves. The broad, unified support of the Asian American community should be enough to trump that of Urban Dictionary.com. Our voice matters, you should listen.
But then again, my view is a little “slanted”.
“I blamed my ethnicity, being Chinese limited me”
By Phoenix Tso
There are several ways for ethnic Chinese people who were born in or grew up in America to describe themselves, or be described by others. From a young age, my mom would tell me that I was “Chinese-American”. When I studied abroad in China two years ago, I learned to refer to myself as a 华裔 (hua yi, foreign citizen of Chinese origin) or “American-Born Chinese” to those who asked where I was from. Yet, for many years I refused to refer to myself as both American and Chinese. Instead, I was just “American”.
I grew up outside of Boston, learned English first, and am most familiar with American (or at least Western) music, books, movies, politics, fashion, religion, etc. It was jarring therefore to find myself in situations where being from a Chinese family was a limitation to how comfortably I could fit in with other people in this country. When I was four or five years old and playing with my first best friend, she started talking about how excited she was to celebrate Hanukkah, as someone who is Jewish.
“I’m Jewish too,” I said, wanting to be whatever she was.
“No you’re not. You’re Christian,” she replied.
Sure, as far as I know, there are very few Chinese Jews in the world, but the implication that being Chinese limited me from exploring different aspects of what American society had to offer, or that I could not try on different identities as easily as other people, stayed with me. This was reinforced by other incidents: When we played Power Rangers at recess, I could never be the Pink Ranger. In sixth grade, my classmates were surprised I knew something about their favorite rappers. Strangers, when they met me, would often assume that I was smart, even when I offered no evidence to support that theory.
Above all, I could never get rid of this niggling feeling that I would be more “fun” or “cool”, that I would have more friends, if I weren’t saddled with the “Chinese people are studious” stereotype. In retrospect, there were many other good reasons for any social exclusion I faced, but at the time, I blamed most of it on my ethnicity.
So I consciously stopped speaking Chinese at home, or even with my grandmother when she would call from Taiwan. I engaged very little with the people around me or with the sites we visited on our trips to China. I ignored the Qing Dynasty soap operas; the CDs of Taiwanese pop music, and other relics of that bygone culture that my parents kept in the house. When others would ask me where I was from, I would defensively tell them the hospital in Connecticut that I was born in. When people referred to me as Chinese-American, I would tell them to cut off the “Chinese-” part.
I started rethinking this choice though when I traveled back to China the summer before I entered college, and found myself unable to communicate with my relatives in Shanghai. I realized that I was cutting myself off from a culture that had shaped me so much, from my eating habits (namely my preference for pig ears and fermented bean curd) to my experimentation with religion (I first embraced Christianity through my town’s Chinese Gospel Church, and then rejected it in line with my family’s religious history). And after being known as a “good student,” who never actually did her homework, I embraced academic achievement as the best way to attain success, mindful of my mom’s history, of how pursuing an education in America was her second chance after being denied the opportunity because of the Cultural Revolution.
Now I take pride in the fact that being Chinese is an inextricable part of identity, and completely enjoy deepening that part of myself. I will always feel more American than Chinese, which is why I will never identify with being an ABC. But I’ll never be just American either.