Food has always been important to me, for better or for worse.
I’m mixed, Filipina and Italian, raised in the south San Francisco Bay mostly by my Filipino family, in a large Filipino community. When I was a kid, however, I wanted nothing to do with my culture (I submitted a post a couple months back about my mom wanting my sister and I to be white). I dreaded when my mom packed my lunch, because it would without a doubt be pancit or kare kare or adobo or something else that would definitely stand out among the sea of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lunchables that my white classmates got to eat. There were jokes about me eating dog, taunts toward my Chinese classmates and I (made all the worse by the fact that my white passing older sister never heard a word of it), and all I wanted was to fit in with them. Even though I grew up in the bay, I remember wanting to be a white girl more than anything.
When I was younger, I loved to eat balut. Fertilized, boiled duck eggs that you might know better from Bizarre Foods or Fear Factor. In third grade I heard a comment about how disgusting it was, that we boiled them alive, and I didn’t eat it again until high school. In terms of my identity (and by extension, the food I eat) I didn’t start decolonizing until these past few years. It took a long time to admit to myself how much I loved this food, and that it was as much a part of my cultural identity as anything else.
I started college this last year, and I go to school in a mostly white town. So it’s hard to even find some of the ingredients needed to cook my own food. When my parents would come to visit, my mom would bring me bihon and bagoong and frozen silverfish, and I would cook with some friends in the communal dorm kitchen. I didn’t get many comments when I made pork or chicken, but I definitely got a good amount of “what the hell is that” whenever I got into the realm of fish. Still, it didn’t really bother me. I told myself that it was because they didn’t know what it was. Be nice. Be patient.
One of my good friends at school is a transracial adoptee from Cambodia. She was adopted at nine years old, so she remembers her life there. Both being southeast Asian, we like to talk about food and things we miss. At the end of the year, she found an Asian supermarket in a nearby town, and brought back balut to cook for her housewarming party. We were both excited, me not having eaten balut in eight months and her not since she was a kid. Most of our friends who came were people of color (and within that group, mostly Korean and Japanese), with the exception of a Korean friend’s boyfriend, a white guy. Our POC friends didn’t judge, were willing to try, and most said they liked it. But when asked if he wanted to try the balut, our friend’s boyfriend said “Nah, it’s okay. I’ll stay over here in civilization.” Nobody really laughed, but the “joke” was passed over. When his girlfriend went back over to sit by him and eat, he looked over at the empty shell and said “Oh my god, you ate it? That’s so gross!” When I told a white friend of mine about how excited I was to have balut again, she responded “that’s so disgusting. Like, really, why would you eat that?”
I wish I’d said something. And maybe I’m getting defensive, but after years of denying my culture to make myself more palatable to white people, it feels precious and fragile to have it back. I understand that everyone is not going to want to eat everything, but how do you explain to someone that this is not the same as not liking broccoli?
This happened about a month ago, but today I was watching the latest season of Top Chef. During the restaurant wars challenge, one of contestants designed a menu with a Filipino concept, for his late grandfather and for the food he liked to eat. The other members of his team were white, and respectful, cooking Filipino dishes - one the white members made a dish based on balut. One of the diners commented on it, saying something like “oh, this is much better. The last time I had it, it was really from the village, but this is a lot cleaner and a lot nicer.”
I hate that the food I love has to be adapted to be seen as clean. As nourishing. As worthy of eating. I hate that our food has to be “modernized” or made “more upscale.” I hate that it’s okay to look at my plate in disgust. I hate that if I eat what I want, I’m going to be mocked, called uncivilized, be seen as backwards and dirty. But you know what?
I’m not hiding anymore. I’ll eat that duck embryo. Your ass can fucking deal.
How my Friend Destroyed my Favorite Cartoon for me
(Here’s a slightly different version of my rant on Youtube, if you’re interested in seeing my face and a video form of me venting.)
When I was a kid, I was pretty much glued to the TV screen. Spongebob Squarepants and The Fairly Odd Parents made me laugh; Powerpuff Girls and Teen Titans made me want to be a superhero; Dexter’s Laboratory and Jimmy Neutron made yucky science seem ~*magical*~.
Although this wide range of cartoons provided me with mindless entertainment, I didn’t have one favorite show that I actually connected and resonated with. Until I discovered Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The first time I watched A:TLA, my immediate thought was, Is this real? Never have I seen such an amazing concept on Nickelodeon (People can control water, fire, earth, or air! But there’s only one guy who could control all four!). Or beautiful art, animation, and score. Or a seamless combination of exhilarating action, clever comedy, and even romances (that did not feel like unnecessary subplots!). And to top it all off, how the female characters were total badasses who challenged traditional gender roles. Sigh. An Asian feminist’s dream.
I think the main reason why I love A:TLA, though, is the simple fact that its lore and character designs were obviously inspired by Asian cultures. Many of the names had Asian roots meaningful to the character. The form of writing in A:TLA’s universe was in Chinese. The bending was based on types of martial arts. Many aspects were heavily influenced by anime, specifically Hayao Miyazaki movies. Even the littlest of detail was probably inspired by different Asian cultures.
As a Chinese-American girl, I finally found a show I could relate to. The fact that these characters looked like me made it easier for me to emulate, and thus were stronger role models. Sure, many other shows portrayed great female characters, but most of them were right!
So, when I heard that the first season of my beloved cartoon was going to be made into a live-action movie, I flipped out. WOAH. I GET TO SEE REAL, TEEN INUIT AND ASIAN ACTORS PORTRAY MY FAVE CHARACTERS! Which then made me realize: I’m a 12 year-old Chinese girl who’s had martial arts experience and loves acting. Hey, I should audition for my homegirl Toph if they make a sequel to this movie! Consequently, I was determined for this first movie to succeed because that would mean there would be a second one, and that would mean I could audition for Toph. So, I made a Youtube channel and uploaded Toph audition videos to get public attention. I joined an A:TLA fan forum to promote my being casted as Toph. I even was featured in a Wiki page, with other Toph candidates. So, I blocked out all possibilities of this movie being a flop, despite each piece of controversial news that was leaking in (e.g. the fact that the Gaang was pretty much white-washed).
Fast-forward to the release of The Last Airbender: I am sitting in a near-empty theater on the very first day of viewing, extremely excited. 90 minutes later, still clouded and delirious by my visions that I could be a movie star in its sequel, I declare that it was an awesome film.
I didn’t come to my senses until a week later, when one of my best friends wanted to go watch TLA and asked if my sister and I would join her. After the movie, we were walking in the parking lot. I was gushing about how awesome the TV show’s characters were and how the movie didn’t quite capture their personalities. My friend replies, “Yeah, the show was so good…But there weren’t enough white people in it.”
I was so stunned that I just said, “Oh yeah, I guess that’s true.” And then we started talking about something else.
Looking back, I seriously regret not screaming “OH, POOR WHITE PERSON. HARDLY ANY REPRESENTATION OF YOUR PEOPLE IN AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER. BOO-FREAKIN’-HOO. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME ASIANS WERE FEATURED IN POSITIVE, PROMINENT ROLES ON A TV SHOW? AND WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME WHITE PEOPLE WERE FEATURED IN POSITIVE, PROMINENT ROLES ON A TV SHOW? SORRY I CAN’T HAVE MY ONE PROGRAM THAT IS FREE OF HAVING ASIANS AS STEREOTYPICAL NERDS OR AS RACIST, COMIC RELIEF.”
I think at that moment in the parking lot three years ago, was when I first became aware of the disparity of our races. We had been friends since first grade.
Now whenever I watch reruns of my favorite show or its spinoff, I can’t help but think about my internalized, silent anger at my friend that day. I have to thank her in a small way, though. Without her one sentence, I may not be the angry Asian girl I am today.
This is the post where I convince myself I can’t change
As a Filipin@-American girl who’s been surrounded by white people since day 1 of living in America, can I just say that I am SICK and TIRED of being quiet about “casual” racism.
Like when my family would go out to eat, we’d get approached by white people, COMPLETE STRANGERS, who would ask us (oh so nicely) where we’re from.
Because you know, this white lady has a son working in Cambodia.
And this other white fool has a Japanese adopted grandson.
And we’d always just smile and say “oh how nice.” That’s what people expect to get when they approach us.
White people believe that they ask us this shit as an act of KINDNESS, to make us feel like “oh yeah we totally have something in common with you, unknown white person.”
Because, you know, the fact that we’re eating spaghetti and chicken wings and pizza while speaking ENGLISH to each other isn’t enough of a fucking similarity for them. No, our eyes and dark hair just throw all those other similarities out the window, and the only possible similarity we can have with these white fools, in their mind, is that we look like someone they know.
And you know what else they’re telling my family when they do this shit to us?
That they feel like they have the right to interrupt our FAMILY TIME. Because you KNOW they don’t approach random white families for trivial shit like this. We’re the MODEL MINORITY and we’re passive and demure and our kind just takes shit like this.
You know what I really wanted to tell them?
“THE FUCK DO I CARE ABOUT YOUR WHITE SON IN CAMBODIA? WHAT, DO YOU THINK I RAN INTO HIM ON MY BOAT RIDE HERE? DO YOU THINK YOU KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT US FROM LOOKING AT HIS PICTURES OF HIM SURROUNDED BY BROWN PEOPLE? THE FUCK DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT, WHITEY?”
But the cruel irony is that they won’t see what they did wrong, and they might treat the next Asian family they see like shit because they got offended at what I said.
So I stay quiet and get sicker, and sicker, and SICKER.
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.
The story of how I almost got shot by a racist white man.
I was assaulted when I was a teen by a middle aged white redneck before…..over a movie theater entrance!!!
I had already paid for my ticket. Left, got some ice cream, and came back. I’m going through the door to bypass the lines and this guy on his way out suddenly bumps into me hard. I’m thinking it’s a simple “oops we bumped into each other” for a split second. I’m a pretty big dude so the bump felt like it was just my mass. I even said, my bad. But I noticed he backed up and kept trying to keep me from getting in the door. Now I’m confused. I back up and I’m like, what’s your problem? He’s like, “You gotta pay like everyone else.” I say, “I did. I’m going to show my stub to the ticket guy. I’m not trying to movie jump.” So I try to reach for the door again and this dude really put his hands on me and pushed me….hard! I’m normally a cool headed person but I was furious. I pushed him back and told him not to put his hands on me. I’m heated. I ask him again what his problem is. I paid for my ticket. And he says, “I don’t like your kind. Always trying to get a free ride.” I can imagine my face turned red. But I kept relatively cool and just let him know, he’s not security. He has no rights to put his hands on me. Let the ticket guy check my stub. At that point I was under the false assumption that you could reason with white people. Not this guy. He was feeling his white privilege strong that day.
here is some real shit about white people fucking up
Fun fact: my BF is white. He is the shining sun of my sky, he is my everything, he is all the romantical romance and practical everyday love and support that i ever dreamed a partner could be.
Back when we were still dating, he said something to me when he was drunk, about me, that was so unspeakably racist and EVEN more racist in retrospect than it was at the time, that i don’t think i can ever fucking forgive him. ever. and every time he does or says something that makes me think of that thing he said, I tell him so. And I tell him again how that shit crushed and crushes my fucking soul. that he did that to me because of his dumbass shitty racist ass whiteness.
And he takes it, and will continue to take it for the rest of our lives. Because he deserves it, because inflicted a wound that will never heal, that will always sometimes make me question how he feels about me. Because why should that be MY burden to bear? It’s not mine. I give it back to him very time it starts to settle on my shoulders.
Because fuck that.
He fucked up. And sometimes he stays fucking up.
This is why I really kinda feel a lot of the people I follow on here that just don’t go out with white people. It’s about preserving your self, your soul. I’ve dated a fair amount of white people and it’s always there. It’s always something. It’s like they can just carve the guts right out of you and not even notice. it’s fucking white supremacy, and the fact that they can do that and just go on their merry way and not even fucking notice and turn around and say they love you….it’s seriously the worst.
do you think that i don’t ever question it, that even as happy as i am and as happy as he makes me, i don’t sometimes wonder if it might be….too much?
because white people stay fucking up. they DO.
even the ones i love. even the ones I’m related to, and the ones i choose to love and live my life with.
so if you think I’m gonna have some goddamn understanding and sympathy for some doucheass white people being all like, “ehhhh, i’m white i don’t know these things’
yeah, fuck you.
i feel this so much. i’ve had those types of incidents with the two white people i dated. but also since my moms side is white, i have a few memories of things my grandpa said that in retrospect hurt really bad and recently that were fucked up, that i don’t think i will ever forgive or forget. i love him, but it’s the truth. and he just won’t and can’t understand. which is also why i can’t bring myself to have relationships with white people on a sexual/emotional level beyond maybe some casual friendship/acquaintance type shit. white people have destroyed my life in many ways, i’ll never forget that.
I suddenly remembered Terra today. I think because Filipinafemme posted a cover of the Teen Titans theme song.
Terra has always had a special place in my heart…looking back at her story years later, I now understand that it’s because I saw my fucked up life in hers— i saw myself in her; the way she was parentless. The way she suffered from some kind of trauma that no one knew but her. The way she wanted to be safe and okay but was easily hurt by others.
And as much as I hated what happened to her later in the series, I understood why she turned evil. I understood her need to lash out at other people because she had been hurt. I appreciated that complexity, because I also saw that possibility within me.
I have a lot of feelings for Terra, and her story feels even more relevant to me now than when I was a teenager. Terra/Teen Titans fanfiction was the only fanfiction I’ve ever seriously cared about.
Omg, I saw one episode with her in it, because I never really got into TT, and was instantly hooked on her character. I was always so disappointed that I never was able to catch another episode with her.
ahhhh you must watch these episodes. they are so good (but heartbreaking). here they are in order:
NOT TALKING ABOUT RACISM WILL NOT END RACISM
What kind of logic is that anyway? Let’s not talk about race issues and then they’ll go away and we can all skip through grassy fields in harmony.
Um, fuck no.
You know what not talking about racism can do to me as a black woman?
Do you have any idea?
If everybody stops talking about it, that doesn’t mean it’s going to disappear. That means that racist fucks get a chance to run wild (more than they already do) and have a good-ass time since nobody wants to talk about it. That is the act of ignoring something. Stop repeating that dumb shit. STOP. YOU ARE WRONG. You will never, ever be right. Because, truth be told, if we stop talking about racism, we’re digging our own graves. THAT is what yall need to pass around. Tell it like it is and stop pretending the shit will just magically go away.
And if you can’t do that and you don’t want to listen to people talk about race issues, you ignore it on your own damn time. But don’t you dare stop people from bringing awareness to certain issues because it rubs YOU the wrong way. That’s selfish. And supporting your selfish ass beliefs with something as stupid as that quote does NOT make you right.
adventure time theme song
BECAUSE REASONS (that’s the first time i’ve ever used that phrase on tumblr — worth the wait!!!)
What about you fuck off.
Have you seen the way Americans treat live stock, the way we cram animals into small barns and factories. The way we kill them, pigs are killed in extremely inhumane ways. Chickens die off of disease because of the poor health conditions of those factories. Don’t throw stones from your glass view of the world.
How about I’m desensitized to animal cruelty because historically Asians have been treated like subhuman animals, eh?
How about there’s this thing called famine, and the Vietnam War, and World War II, and third world poverty, and the Korean War, and the Communist revolution, and a couple of fucking tsunamis which basically meant OH LOOK THERE IS NO FOOD LET ME EAT WHATEVER I CAN SCROUNGE BECAUSE FUCK YOU, IT’S NOT LIKE THEY HAVE TOFURKY IN WAR ZONES.
How about what the fuck is this shit about eating dogs being cruel. Fuck you. What about motherfucking pate, eh?
How about you need to shut the fuck up and do your research before getting on your white vegan soapbox and bitching about other cultures you know nothing about.
And how about WHAT THE FUCK “ASIANS DON’T HAVE A WHOLE LOT OF REGARD FOR LIFE” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN BECAUSE I SURE AS HELL HOPE YOU DON’T MEAN THE FACT THAT STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE MEANS FEEDING OUR CHILDREN WITH WHATEVER IS AVAILABLE BECAUSE GODDAMN, THAT SOUNDS PRETTY RESPECTFUL OF LIFE TO ME.
Black men are not a fetish, they are wonderful, complex individuals, not big black mandingos or savage sex maniacs.
Using the ‘jungle fever’ shows how simple, and ignorant you are of the black man’s value, especially the contribution he can make to a sexual, but also romantic, emotional relationship.
If you use the term ‘jungle fever’ to describe your attraction to black men, basically you’re a dumbass and you don’t deserve a black man.