The lady looked at me confused as he hesitated, rolling his eyes up trying to think it out. Smiling, I told her, “If you are wondering what culture of Asian we are, we’re a bit mixed up. Korean, Japanese, North Korean, Chinese, definitely Mongolian descent…Mainly, he knows he’s a Virginian.”
Quite honestly, I do not find it offensive or racist to be asked this type of question. If anything, I find it a little amusing. Yes, it does get tiring at times, but I know people are just curious and do not mean harm, just as I would be when trying to figure out if my friend’s freckles and red hair are from Ireland or Scotland. Or if their height is due to their grandparent’s Nordic roots, or where there is accent from–Rhode Island or Boston, or even South African?
Thus the multiple hyphenations begin: Whatever Country-American, Whatever Color-American, Whatever Sexual orientation-American, even Whatever Religion-American. It does all get a little confusing for a kid. Then there are the dialects: Texan, Virginian, Boston, Rhode Islanders and the Valley kids! How do we differentiate ourselves–and should we? And if we do, we run the risk of being labeled a racist. Or sexist. (Or is it something else now?)
I am proud of my Asian roots and I embed it into my children by relaying as much history as I have knowledge of. I teach them a respect and love of our ancestor’s countries, including their hardships, struggles, and why we are where we are today as proud Americans. Everyone doesn’t have to speak one way, or look one way, or have one religion, or one sexual orientation. I personally wouldn’t want to look like everybody else and in fact, I embrace the fact that as Americans we are so very diverse in every way. I embrace the fact that through hard work, we can be whatever we can dream to be.
Right now, there’s much hoopla over the Sochi Olympics since Russia is not a gay supporting country. Thus gay activists are sending a delegation of LGBT athletes to prove a point—but what point are they trying to make? To prove America is a tolerant country and Russia is not? I always thought of the Olympics as being all about your country’s best athletes. It doesn’t matter what color or sex—it is simply a way to show you are the best athlete in your field and to honor your country. Gay athlete Johnny Weir is a proud American and has been proud to have been in the Olympics. He recently said,
The entire Olympic team is not made up of LGBT people. It’s people who’ve sacrificed their livelihoods, it’s people who’ve sacrificed their parents’ finances and health and sometimes even marriages to get that one chance at glory. As an athlete who’s lived it, I could never turn my face to that. While equality is necessary all over the world, the Olympics is not the place for me to make a stand.
Being American is not about being hyphenated or dividing ourselves into clusters, each group offended every time something happens that they disagree with. I like the color green but I don’t like the color purple; does that make me “purple racist”? I am a heterosexual woman, I will only date and marry heterosexual men; does that make me sexist?Although it’s undeniable that racism does exist, sometimes the anger coming out of the Asian American community is misplaced. There was a recent uproar via Twitter regarding an episode of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother in which no Asian actors were used in an episode about Asians (all the actors were white). If there had been one African American or any other race represented, there would not have been one tweet. Bottom line, it was racially discriminating.
On the other hand, in July of 2013 people died in the Asiana aircraft crash. In this instance, there was practically no outrage when news anchor Tori Campbell of KTVU TV told viewers that the names of the pilots were:
Sum Ting Wong (Some thing wrong)
Wi Tu Lo (We’re too low)
Ho Lee F** (Holy F***)
Bang Ding Ow
Perhaps people are only concerned when it involves Asians appearing in American sitcoms instead of expressing (justifiable) anger at racist stereotypes. With social media and the Internet, one person can pick up a story and everyone jumps on it, with thoughts pervading into a subconscious carried forward by mainstream media where every kook can carry a torch and turn it into a maelstrom.
In other words, let’s get our priorities in order, people! Over the past weekend, I went to see the movie Lone Survivor. It reminded me that there are young men fighting and dying for all Americans, no matter which hyphens we use.
We must teach our children why we are Americans, why we are of the many cultures and colors and the beautiful diversities that brought this nation together. We must teach them that this land, the United States of America, was hard fought and hard won, built on all who sacrificed and perished so that we could have that freedom from hyphenation and enjoy the diversity of all cultures who value diversity in every sense.
Being racist and/or racial discrimination has nothing to do with being curious about our differences. We should not be criticized for not going along with the crowd or what I consider reverse discrimination when people “stay with their own kind” because what, really, is “our own kind”? We should never go along with someone who says, “That was a racist remark because he just asked where I’m from.”
A beautiful little girl was stroking my daughter’s long hair and innocently asked, “What Chinese are you?” In today’s hyper-sensitive politically correct world, some would consider her comment insulting, but the reality was that she was simply curious and in wonderment about someone who did not look like her and wanted to find out more.
Personally, I’m tired of certain folks who seem to live their lives only to judge what others do and label it racist or racial discrimination. And perhaps I’m doing the same thing by judging them. But when you get right down to it, I believe it all comes down to a new type of selfishness. It isn’t simply about “equal rights”, it’s about certain people wanting everything, whether they need or deserve it or not–and then if they don’t get it, they throw tantrums like little children. It gets to a point where you want to scream, “WAKE UP!” For me, if you are going to try to say I am racially discriminating for not going along with the LGBT Athletic community’s boycott of the Russian Olympics, well so be it. I can live with that.