Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Show Me the Asian!

While many of my friends and family would swear that I'm from another planet, I'm actually Asian-American, having been born to two people who hail from mainland China. I think if you turn my parents upside down, you might see the "Made in China" stamp imprinted on the soles of their feet.

There are some Asians who try to downplay their heritage and act as "white" as possible. They're called "bananas," which means they're white on the inside and yellow on the outside. Needless to say, this is usually not a term of endearment.

I believe there were probably phases in my life during which I was banana-like, as I tried to navigate the social hurdles that many children of immigrants go through as they try to find their place in a new society. But one of the benefits of being in your 30s (okay, 40s, dammit) is that, as I get older, I JUST DON'T GIVE A RIP about what other people think of me.

Being Asian is actually kind of fun now. In addition to all the obvious stuff, like being able to order off a Chinese menu, you can get away with telling certain ethnic jokes and pretending not to speak English if you don't want to bother with those pushy kiosk people at the mall. Rest assured that I am very selective about playing the Asian card. I haven't used it to get out of any legal scrapes, nor do I pretend to be good with math and computers. But I might do both, if necessary.

I've been enjoying some awesome sites that discuss being Asian. One of them, Disgrasian, is thought-provoking and funny. The others just make me laugh my butt off. I hope you check them out. You don't have to be Asian to you enjoy them. But if you ARE Asian, you get better service and fresher postings. (Shhhh ... Don't tell the non-Asians.)

kevjumba - The video shown above is from kevjumba, a site in which thoroughly American Kevin and his thoroughly Asian dad share their cultural and age differences. There's some good-natured trash-talking between the two, but the obvious affection (and bemusement) they have for each other is very sweet. BONUS: They are also a team competing in this season's "Amazing Race!" When they introduced this team during last Sunday's season premier episode I nearly screamed like a little girl-groupie.

Disgrasian - Jen and Diana, the creators and co-authors, blog about current events and culture. Learn more about the Asians they like (musicians, civil rights leaders) and the Asians they boo (Tila Tequila). It's relevant and really funny. When I grow up I want to be like them.

The Busy Dad Blog - Okay, this isn't really a blog about being Asian. But creator and author Jim is Asian-American and is way too funny with prose and video as he highlights the adventures of parenting. Non-parents would enjoy this blog, too. The night I nearly fell out of my chair laughing as he demonstrated how to determine the trajectory of flying poop in his daughter's crib using forensics techniques commonly seen on "CSI" was the night that I realized that this was a blog I MUST bookmark.

My Mom is a FOB and High Expectations Asian Father - Yes, I can relate! This is what Asian-Americans discuss when complaining about their parents. You MIGHT have to be Asian to find the humor in these two sites, but maybe I'm wrong. Non-Asian peeps, let me know.


Nate @ House of Annie said...

Hey, I didn't pick up that you were Asian, from your comments and posts that I've read. I guess you don't play that Asian card much at all.

Thanks for introducing those sites. Kev Jumba and Disgrasian I knew about but the other three are new.

Jenster said...

Nate, I only use the Asian card when it's necessary, such as when the guys at Best Buy try to give me some electronics mumble-jumble speech. I just nod like I already know what they're talking about, since I'm Asian and all.

IH said...

Hi, House of Annie directed me to your blog, so, yes, I've gotta check it out!

Cool blog, but I wonder if I qualify. I'm Asian-Asian living in Belgium?

I love your definition of "bananas". We have, unfortunately, plenty of "bananas" in Europe, UK.... sad.
BTW, congrats for winning the top commenter award on the HoA :-D

BusyDad said...

I am honored to--- wait... that was too Asian. Let's try that again.

I am stoked that you included me in your Asian blogs list. Funny, my embracing my Asianess happened much later in life. I grew up in an Irish suburb of Boston. My sister and I were the only Asians in our town. On top of that, I was really smart and played violin (no surprise there. some stereotypes are true!). That put me at the bottom of the food chain (i.e. I got beat up daily). At that point in my life, the LAST thing I wanted to be was Asian.

Later in life, as I found my own and settled into a groove and quit violin, I became a lot more confident in general. It was at that time that I began to embrace the Asian in me.

When I look back, it's not the Asian per se that I shunned and then brought back - it was ME whom I shunned and then embraced. I realized I blamed my wimpy kid status on the most obvious difference I had, and that was race. Later in life, when I became more confident in myself, I was more comfortable with ME, and everything that came with it.

Plus, everyone knows you can't be a real ninja if you're not Asian. That is a WIN, any way you slice it.

Jenster said...

@ IH, you definitely qualify, so go be your Asian bad-ass self.

@ BusyDad, I'm honored that you're honored. It's funny how a lot of us grew up not embracing our Asian-ness. My son is half-Asian, we live in a suburb with a lot of Asian and part-Asian families, and he's always enjoyed being half-Chinese. But then again, he enjoys math, science and chess, so there you go. At least he plays football.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for writing this post! Wonderful read! I love hearing everyone's Asian stories. I used to be so embarrassed about my Chinese middle name. Can't wait to check out the blogs. I knew they were out there but I just never knew where to start looking.


Jenster said...

Rhema, as your aunt, I can vouch that you have one of the prettier Chinese names. You could have been stuck with some of the goofy ones that sound like "Long Duck Dong." (If you don't get that reference, watch the movie "Sixteen Candles.")