Asians in America II

My post from last Thursday elicited different comments. I responded to Paiky on Friday. Today I will address Dizzo who provided an opposing comment suggesting that, as far as he is concerned, all races in America are equal.

CultofDizzo: to be completely honest, i never considered asian americans any different from regular americans until they told me they were. I didn’t know about the cultural differences until I became friends with a lot of asians. A lot of these negative stereotypes we’re trying to get rid of were first introduced to me in the context of being told they weren’t true. In an American city like DC or NYC, when you see an asian or a black person or any other “minority” you don’t bat an eye, because it is normal. I’d be much more uncomfortable if I was in america and everyone was white! Posted 10/2/2003 at 11:44 PM
Ah, Dizzo, I love people, like you and Paiky, who are “completely honest.” You are the counterpart of Paiky, my Pollyanna side. You are my hope, my dream of the future. Indeed, while there are differences in heritage and the cultures that represent them, we are all first and foremost Americans, and enjoy a shared American heritage and culture. But your statement also reveals a reality that continues to keep things complicated for AAs. You see all members of society as being equal, and that is wonderful to hear. But it is also surprising to hear you say that you didn’t know there was a problem until you made Asian friends. There is dissatisfaction within society and you didn’t recognize it on your own? It took Asians to open your eyes? What might that say about you and your environment before you met them? What of people who have yet to befriend AAs? How do we make them aware? Further, you should keep in mind that your attitutde is your attitude, not someone elses. You may not bat an eye when you see a Black or Asian in NYC or DC, but I have had people bat their eyes at me in DC and certainly Virginia. It is usually brief, non-violent and subtle, but disconcerting nonetheless. Do you know how irritating it is to not be served by a waiter right away while other tables with white patrons who were seated after receive instant attention? (It happened most recently at Famous Dave’s, the rib joint in Vienna.) Or the sales clerk who turns to a white cutomer before he turns to you? (This happened most recently at Macy’s in Pentagon City) This has occured more than a few times, believe me. Some will say, “Well, you should have left.” I say, no. If I leave, they win. But, of course, you wouldn’t really know what I’m talking about. Now, I am not raggin’ on you. Please believe me. But I hope you see what I am trying to say. Many non-Asians see no problems with the status quo, whether it is due to a lack of awareness, or a baser lack of acceptance. In either case, nothing changes and AAs remain a disenfranchised segment within society.

There are many non-Asians who have told me that they received similar discriminating treatment in Asian countries. And that is true and unfortunate. But there is a basic difference between our situations. For the most most part, the non-Asian probably chose to go to Asia and has the choice to leave, as they have a place to return to. I had no choice and nowhere to return to. I did not choose to be born in the US; I did not choose to be educated in a system that paid lip service, telling me that I was “legally” equal to everyone else in our great land; I did no choose to be raised in a culture that made me feel different, that convinced me that I WAS different from other “regular Americans” through images of typical White middle American values in the media. I also have no where to return, for I am an outsider in Japan. I look Japanese, but my passport guarantees different treatment when I go to find a job, try to find an apartment, get a loan, etc. So I live here and try–in my own small way–to effect change from within, to influence young people positively. I have to believe that its possible, that there is a goal to strive for; perhaps not a Utopia, but a better place than this.

To those of you who have read these past two Asian American posts: Don’t think I don’t respect these two gentlemen, or that I have singled them out for rebuttal. I only know Paiky through Xanga, but I have been reading his sites regularly, and from what I can tell, he is a straight talking guy. He is totally cool, and I respect his opinion. I have met Dizzo, and although we have never had a real heart-to-heart, I know enough about him through mutual friends and his Xanga site that he is a kind and gentle soul. And I respect his opinion and observations as well. But I needed to make a point and I wanted to address them here. They are good people who I’m sure will accept a difference of opinion.

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Asians in America II

My post from last Thursday elicited different comments. I responded to Paiky on Friday. Today I will address Dizzo who provided an opposing comment suggesting that, as far as he is concerned, all races in America are equal.

CultofDizzo: to be completely honest, i never considered asian americans any different from regular americans until they told me they were. I didn’t know about the cultural differences until I became friends with a lot of asians. A lot of these negative stereotypes we’re trying to get rid of were first introduced to me in the context of being told they weren’t true. In an American city like DC or NYC, when you see an asian or a black person or any other “minority” you don’t bat an eye, because it is normal. I’d be much more uncomfortable if I was in america and everyone was white! Posted 10/2/2003 at 11:44 PM

Ah, Dizzo, I love people, like you and Paiky, who are “completely honest.” You are the counterpart of Paiky, my Pollyanna side. You are my hope, my dream of the future. Indeed, while there are differences in heritage and the cultures that represent them, we are all first and foremost Americans, and enjoy a shared American heritage and culture. But your statement also reveals a reality that continues to keep things complicated for AAs. You see all members of society as being equal, and that is wonderful to hear. But it is also surprising to hear you say that you didn’t know there was a problem until you made Asian friends. There is dissatisfaction within society and you didn’t recognize it on your own? It took Asians to open your eyes? What might that say about you and your environment before you met them? What of people who have yet to befriend AAs? How do we make them aware? Further, you should keep in mind that your attitutde is your attitude, not someone elses. You may not bat an eye when you see a Black or Asian in NYC or DC, but I have had people bat their eyes at me in DC and certainly Virginia. It is usually brief, non-violent and subtle, but disconcerting nonetheless. Do you know how irritating it is to not be served by a waiter right away while other tables with white patrons who were seated after receive instant attention? (It happened most recently at Famous Dave’s, the rib joint in Vienna.) Or the sales clerk who turns to a white cutomer before he turns to you? (This happened most recently at Macy’s in Pentagon City) This has occured more than a few times, believe me. Some will say, “Well, you should have left.” I say, no. If I leave, they win. But, of course, you wouldn’t really know what I’m talking about. Now, I am not raggin’ on you. Please believe me. But I hope you see what I am trying to say. Many non-Asians see no problems with the status quo, whether it is due to a lack of awareness, or a baser lack of acceptance. In either case, nothing changes and AAs remain a disenfranchised segment within society.

There are many non-Asians who have told me that they received similar discriminating treatment in Asian countries. And that is true and unfortunate. But there is a basic difference between our situations. For the most most part, the non-Asian probably chose to go to Asia and has the choice to leave, as they have a place to return to. I had no choice and nowhere to return to. I did not choose to be born in the US; I did not choose to be educated in a system that paid lip service, telling me that I was “legally” equal to everyone else in our great land; I did no choose to be raised in a culture that made me feel different, that convinced me that I WAS different from other “regular Americans” through images of typical White middle American values in the media. I also have no where to return, for I am an outsider in Japan. I look Japanese, but my passport guarantees different treatment when I go to find a job, try to find an apartment, get a loan, etc. So I live here and try–in my own small way–to effect change from within, to influence young people positively. I have to believe that its possible, that there is a goal to strive for; perhaps not a Utopia, but a better place than this.

To those of you who have read these past two Asian American posts: Don’t think I don’t respect these two gentlemen, or that I have singled them out for rebuttal. I only know Paiky through Xanga, but I have been reading his sites regularly, and from what I can tell, he is a straight talking guy. He is totally cool, and I respect his opinion. I have met Dizzo, and although we have never had a real heart-to-heart, I know enough about him through mutual friends and his Xanga site that he is a kind and gentle soul. And I respect his opinion and observations as well. But I needed to make a point and I wanted to address them here. They are good people who I’m sure will accept a difference of opinion.