It upsets me when people forget that Asians have had a nasty history in this country and think that we have it all grand and dandy.
White people did not want any of us in this country for a long time (see: Chinese Exclusion Act), and any recognition of our culture comes in the form of wildly distorted appropriation, like “Chinese” takeout and the appropriation of Asian languages’ characters (because they look “cool”).
And hey, we all look the same, and all Asian cultures are pretty much the same even though they are all distinct and unique from one another.
We don’t get taken seriously unless we are smart, and god forbid if you can’t speak English. Kids think it’s okay to make squinty eyes at me and yell, “Ching chong chang chong” and “Ai-ya!” at me. I’ve been looked on as a communist who wants to take a gun and shoot all the white people in this country. The expectation of society is that either we are making great advancements in science or we are running laundromats and nail salons.
Asian actors and celebrities are far and in between, and the actors usually only play stereotypically Asian roles or roles in Asian-centric films. There are painfully few Asian politicians and leaders in the Western world, because while we are a majority in number in the world, few of us actually have a voice that matters.
The U.S. doesn’t give a shit about Asia unless it’s doing well economically, and even when it’s doing well economically, Asians are suddenly a threat to the U.S. as a superpower. People don’t like to see Asians as anything more than complacent, pale-faced geishas doing things for my “famiry honor” or a militant Red Army soldier. It’s either those or we, especially the women, are a fetish, like feet and BDSM.
Severe human rights violations are occurring in Asia as we speak, but no one in the West bothers to know about them because it’s only Asia. Sure, go ahead with the Asian jokes, but the fact of the matter remains: we are still largely regarded as foreign. We’re either flat-out ignored, not taken seriously at all, or unreasonably feared.
I am a person of color—and for other people of color to act as if the struggles of Asians like myself are not as valid as their struggles is insulting and harmful. Go ahead and piss at me all you want for being wrong about other shit, but don’t you dare act like Asians are somehow just white people with a golden tint.
I don’t know where this is coming from, but I feel its truth.
But I want to remind my fellow Asians (especially us overseas Chinese) that sometimes our own communities are whack, and we are liable to drink the whiteness kool-aid, and believe and enact racist foolishness towards our darker-skinned kin and friends, especially black people, with whom we have shared several moments of solidarity with. It doesn’t make our histories as POC any less valid when we behave heinously; it’s just another imperative we should be aware of.
(That is not a conversation for white people to gawk at, though, so fuck the hell off very much thank you.)
We need to be careful with each other so we can be dangerous together.