Rant – Being Used; It’s Not About You

First off, I’d like to apologize for this post. It will sound like a teenage angst-ridden memoir: whiny, angry and unabashedly self-centered. Blame shall be placed where it may or may not be deserved; but in the end, this is simply a method for me to release this pent up annoyance that has clouded my thoughts the past few months. Simultaneously, I hope to point out a few traits, subtleties and interactions that may also be bothersome not only to myself but many in my type of position. I can say the latter with confidence as I’ve heard of other individuals who’ve been in  something of the same situation.

First and foremost, I am not a “traditional” Caucasian-American-looking girl. I do not have luscious – perhaps long, but not necessarily – blonde (or lighter colored) hair, nor do I own a pair of non-brown eyes. I do not possess breasts of covetable proportions, nor do I have the delineated proportions of a runway model. I also do not dress in matching outfits: the perfect cardigan, the perfect set of layered tops paired with dark colored jeans, a pair of adorable peek-toe shoes, coupled with face-matching sunglasses and a big purse to boot.

On that note, I’m not even a “traditional” Asian-American. I do not have long straightened raven hair, set perfectly in every way. I have no ability with makeup and do not have a perfectly set face with beautifully lined eyes and eyebrows, the perfect amount of mascara, and the beautiful dab of lipstick. My body is not waif-like and thin – although this may be a stereotype – and my mannerisms are not, for lack of better terminology, cute.

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Thoughts on Racism, Part 3

On Friday, March 29th, we all went out drinking. While we were out at T. Flynn’s, one of the undergrads (having already been mentioned) pulled me aside and was trying to get us to pose for a Snapchat picture. What happened next literally made my drunk mind blow. Over a few mishaps with the camera and all laughing heartedly, he took the picture then proceeded to type, “My Asian!” before hitting the send button. In the three milliseconds of my reaction yelling, “What does that even mean?” to his explanation that his friend had sent him a picture with her and her mom, tagged: “My Mom!”

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Thoughts on Racism, Part 2

Part 2 of Thoughts on Racism, more stories:

I started wearing glasses when I was in Kindergarten and contacts in 3rd grade. I remember that kids would tease me about my glasses but somehow it was also synonymous and tied back with me being Asian. I don’t know how that happened exactly…I couldn’t see because my eyes were too small or some of that bullshit crap.

Currently, I wear glasses and contacts. Sometimes I lose my contacts down the drain or whatnot and if I can’t find another pair, I usually wear my glasses. Unfortunately, my glasses are a lower strength than my contacts so it’s hard for me to see. As such, I find myself explaining to people – since I don’t want them to be offended if I don’t recognize them or if I can’t really see them – that I do have trouble seeing.

A few of the undergrads and a few of the bartenders at the bar have made fun of me for it. They will pull back their eyes into that whole Miley Cyrus chinky eyes thing and go, “Well, I wouldn’t be able to see well too if my world was seen in widescreen” and other racist/derogatory things. At the time I had laughed it off and played along with them; but at the same time, there was a pang of annoyance. Should have stood up and said something about it, but what would a tipsy-drunk girl actually have of any relevance? I need to grow a pair of balls I think. Haha.

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Thoughts on Racism, Part 1

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written on this blog; however, it may be time to actually post more frequently with comments and thoughts I wouldn’t otherwise post on “fun” media like Tumblr and Facebook.

Today, I wanted to write about some random memories of Racism (and instances of Racism, even now) that I’ve encountered. Of course, these aren’t the horribly heart-stabbing – well, maybe one is, but it isn’t the worst I’ve encountered, that’s for sure.

Please excuse the grammar as I have only cursorily corrected this –

Growing up and attending schools in Irvine (Orange County, California) where the racial split was divided almost in half by Asians and Caucasians, one was bound to face racism from time-to-time. The Caucasian population consisted of wealthy families owning multi-million dollar mansions in the foothills of Irvine, Newport, Laguna, etc. Also, having attended a predominantly Caucasian  Baptist Christian School – I mean, c’mon, only mostly white parents are this hyper-religious they would send their kids to private school – had already instilled in me (even at a young age) a sense that I was very different from my peers.

I remember very vividly one rainy day back at Liberty Christian Academy (perhaps I was in 1st or 2nd grade) when we were eating outside in the lunch area. My mom, on cold days, would usually prepare me my favorite dish ever – dumplings. However, she’d put them in Tupperware and they would be cold by the time I got to school. Of course, being in true dumpling form, the smell of meat (or cabbage or even leek, especially leek) would pervade through the lunch box and into everyone else’s senses. There were times when we were allowed to microwave our food (and the lunch lady would do that for us); but either way, I remember very strongly that my American classmates and friends would complain about that horrible smell and how weird it smelled. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t smell the most pleasant if you’re not used to it, but the fact that my mom packed me these types of lunches, while they were my favorites also very much embarrassed me. Obviously, the teachers did nothing about it and my one other Chinese friend – one of four or five other Asians at the school – always had food that was prepared super American, so she didn’t run into this problem and even she wouldn’t stand up to defend me. Perhaps I should have learned to defend myself at that age.

In the third grade, I was transferred to the public school. Perhaps it was my name more than my race, but my peers would always refer to me as Tiger Lily from Pocahontas.  Apparently having black hair and darker skin was also part of it.

However, one of the moments that sticks out most to me actually happened only a few doors down from my own house from those whom we trusted. Neighbors – I only remember now the kid’s name is Ryan and he was having trouble at school, can’t quite remember the mom’s name, perhaps that’ll come to me…

Anyway, Ryan and I grew up together (he was about 3 to 4 years younger and had been held back a few times). We later found out that his dad, who was a pilot, ended up cheating on wife and all this bad shit started going down in the house. Pretty much, by the time we moved from Stillwater, they had a broken home over a period of over twelve years? Growing up, however, Ryan’s mom – I remember, her name was Christy – and my mom were close. Together with Mrs. Bergy and whatnot, we all got along quite well. However, Christy (and Ryan’s dad) did not get along at all with our direct next door neighbors, the Krowns – that’s another story for another day. They were always trying to sabotage one another, even going so far as to seeing who could push their trashcan to the curb sooner so there’d be “less of a drag” to pull back…

Fuck if I knew (or even understand ideologies at this point).

Christy would have us neighborhood kids over a lot, or we’d go out and play. I remember those days pretty well since my mom would very rarely let me go out and play. I wonder if my lack of discipline is due to the fact that I was hyper-disciplined as a child. At any rate, at some point in my middle school / early high school years, our moms decided that we would swap and Christy would teach me French while my mom would teach Ryan Chinese. Those were the good times; I can still remember sitting in their kitchen with the bay windows looking out into the garden.

The incident did not occur until later in high school. It had been quite some time since we’d all been in contact with one another as their household must have been falling apart and our household was doing our own thing. Such is inevitable, right? You stay a “close-knit” community mostly because your kids are all playing together, but once we start aging, those things can quickly dissipate. Perhaps it wasn’t just that; there were other reasons.

Christy slowly but surely became an alcoholic and Ryan had just started the 6th grade. I can’t be certain if that was the grade, but I remember the stark contrast in height. At the time, we hadn’t realized Christy was drinking herself down the bottle until that night.

Mom and I were watching TV and as is summertime, we had left the windows open. The living room is right on the side where the front door / front gates are. We heard the doorbell ring and my mom went to answer it. Her voice rose in excitement as she explained, “Hi Christy! How are you?” What I heard next was not what I’d expected; Christy was angrily telling my mom off. At the time, I did not know what alcohol really was (how it’d smell like, or anything), but I knew that she was being belligerent with my Asian mother.

As I joined my mom at the door, Christy also glared at me and continued her rant. It went along the lines of how us Asians came to the United States to take their jobs, to take their homes, to move into their neighborhoods and to go to their schools. She continued to tell us that we should return to our homeland and that we were not welcome here. She told us to come out to the driveway.

It was at this point that little Ryan – who was barely up to my shoulders, so perhaps still 6th grade – came finding his mom. He kept trying to pull her away, at the same time apologizing for her behavior. “Mom, we have to go home; I’m so sorry Mrs. Yang and Lily. Mom! We have to go home! You’re drunk!”

She pushed him a few times, but eventually he managed to persuade her to at least leave our front doorstep. She seemed to have left with him. My mom and I were shocked. Next thing you know, she came back to the front gate and was yelling epitaphs at us. Again, Ryan had to come drag her away. In accordance to what she said, we actually did follow her to the driveway where our mailboxes were all connected.

There, at 10pm in the evening, she started proclaiming to the entire block  – we were on the end of the cul de sac – how we Chinese were horrible people, on and on and on. For a third time, Ryan kept pulling his mom back, “Mom, you’re drunk! Let’s go home. Mom! YOU’RE DRUNK! You’re embarrassing yourself.”

She never really apologized for her behavior; or perhaps she did but very sheepishly. From them on, there seemed to be a tension that could never be broken or breached. When she’d see us, she would turn haughtily away and seemed to avoid even leaving the driveway around the same time we did. Perhaps she was embarrassed? Mom said she must have been, right? Maybe she did apologize; I should ask mom, she’d remember best. Apparently Christy has been in and out of rehab; maybe it’s worked, maybe it hasn’t? But even despite all that, you can never take back your inner racism that you hid so well behind a façade of homogeneity; you can never erase the racist epitaphs and hate you threw at us. None of that will ever go away. And the worst part is, it came from someone which my family trusted very deeply; these people were always there to help us – from watching the house when we were away, to having dinner, babysitting, etc. – and we them. This was the biggest affront…the betrayal of trust.

Maybe this is why I can’t ever really trust white people. Because of this. Haha. While they may not all be like this or have these intentions, to have this happen.

In retrospect, what bothers me the most isn’t so much that she was being a complete racist bitch, it’s more that Ryan, a young kid, was put in this type of household where he pretty much became the parent. While he may not have understood the racism being expounded by his mother that night, he definitely understood that what she was doing was unacceptable. Really, I get angry at her for being such an irresponsible woman. Yeah, when people ask me what racism I’ve experienced in my life, sometimes I forget this whole exchange. I think I have tried to forget because at the time, I didn’t want to believe that something like this could happen as personally as it did. (In this regard, I’m not discounting racist or white privileged things that had happened to me personally prior to this occurrence…this event only signified the start of my actual recording in memory of racism against Asians. There were definitely instances before this that were probably much worse but that because I was younger, I have been able to easily forget.)

 

Thoughts on Racism – Part 2

Thoughts on Racism – Part 3