Asians in America I

My last post elicited different comments, which is, in my opinion, a good thing. Discussion–even if divergent and at times conflicting–is always good in that it is the first step in understanding each other and getting along–but please, don’t call me Rodney King:

PaikyPoo: we live in a world of physical senses. your idea where we’re all equals is a utopia which will never be realized. no matter how twinkie i am, how perfect my english is, how patriotic i am, how abercrombie & fitch i dress, how white my gf/wife is (if i had one), or how much money i make i’ll always be seen as a yellow man. doesn’t bother me tho… one of the advantages of being older is i’ve had more time to contemplate about such things. i got over my insecurities about it several years ago. Posted 10/2/2003 at 7:37 PM

Paiky, you are my darker side. I am, at heart, a realist. I was, as a kid, beat up a couple of times just because I was a jap, a gook, and/or a chink. I was disparaged verbally more times than I can count. So I KNOW that I am, as you put it, the “yellow man.” How can I not know? Being the target of countless insults has provided me with a thick skin and an even thicker skull. Interestingly, in spite of this, I still see my self as an American like you, as you suggest with your “perfect English” and “patriotism”–although I doubt you are a twinkie. (haha, in my day, the word was banana, y’know yellow on the outside, white on the inside and after you rot a bit you turn black…) But I have never gotten over the fact that I am still seen as “yellow” which suggests outsider, or worse, inferior. It continues to bug me. This may be, as you put it, an insecurity. And maybe I am insecure. But I dwell on this issue and the emotions it arouses. I don’t revel in it. I don’t enjoy it. And I don’t forget it, as it is my way of keeping this situation in the forefront of my mind. I refuse to accept that I am an outsider or inferior to White America. I want to scream to others the fundamental flaw of this social condition, the obvious contradictions it manifests vis-a-vis the American Constitution. But, as I know you are fully aware, this is a difficult if not impossible task, as once people are set in their ways, they refuse to change. So I have taken another path. I have decided to teach. No, no, I am not some Asian-American studies rabble rouser. That defeats the purpose as the only people you attract are usually other disaffected Asians. I teach Japanese literature, for in it is the concept of the reality of change and the inevitablility of difference. I tell my young students that the Japanese of a 1000 years ago realized that meaning is not stable, that things change and change is good, diversity is natural, indeed it IS nature. Yes, modern Japan continues to be “homogrenous” (what a joke!), but the diversity and change embedded in the ideas of literature and art are perfect in understanding our lives and, by extention, our society. And if I can affect a few–or even just one student–to open their eyes to this, that’s more than I would have done by accepting the status quo. Okay, maybe I’m a Pollyanna, for we all know that Utopia is virtually impossible–Huxley already showed us that–but I cannot give up trying, for the alternative would be too depressing.

CultofDizzo also left a comment that reflects the other side of the spectrum. I will respond to that tomorrow…

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