it offends me.

“white” is a category in a racial hierarchy. and for the record, in that hierarchy, i happen to be asian.

i disagree with associations of my lifestyle to being “white”, just because i care about issues of race, class, and gender, advocate for those i care about, choose not to strive for gucci, and ride a bike. what about these preferences – ways i consciously choose to live my life – make me “white”? i feel exhausted by being shunned by my supposed community.

despite the interests and activities that i partake in, i cannot remove my skin, my face, my eyes, my history, nor my lenses. i see how you see me, how your eyebrows raise and your lips reveal a slight smile, ‘oh how nice for the community to represent’. it was and is enough to discourage my attendance, to grace my token presence – to allow you the satisfaction of my colourful presence at your ‘cultural event’. i am sick of being asked to represent my supposed community.

because i speak up for issues of equity and will not speak my “mother tongue” when you hang that grimy appropriated carrot, i’m bound by the strings of enlightenment, empowerment, emancipation.

“white” and “asian” are social constructions – we make’em happen through interactions, with real results. but what does this mean for me? makes me think of the catchphrase: “if you can’t beat’em, join’em”. but join who?, and i don’t want to beat anyone… just belong  (boo hoo, i know) with equity.

 

in april 2010, i learned from CBC radio that Nova Scotia is to house Canada’s immigration museum at Pier 21. apparently, the decision was made a couple months prior.

i moved away from there around the same time… with a very dirty taste in my mouth. as a visible minority and racialized, child of two immigrant parents, born, raised, and participant in its institutions, i am less than amused about the potential for the museum to promote the image of Nova Scotia as an accepting place to land.

sure, my parents lived the “american dream”. but they suffered horribly due to barriers that were explicit forms of racial discrimination. many social science undergraduate students in Canada will know of the injustices to black high school students in Cole Harbour, that, until recently,were purported by officials as merely teen antics.

in my own experience, i saw “white vs black” battles split student bodies, my multi-cultural group of friends separate into social cliques and physical ghettos, was called every slur-name in the book as a kid, and cat-called every exotic-name as a teen. as an adult, i witness others go through the same experiences as my parents, and as i have and did while living there most recently.

in my wildest dreams, the museum will ratify the injustices that occurred, and continue to occur to immigrants establishing themselves in NS. realistically, i know this highly unlikely. i’m sorry.

excuse me as i raise a weary eyebrow to the state’s “sorry” state. even for Nova Scotia’s most recent apology and pardon for the racist jailing of viola desmond for sitting in the whites’ section of a theatre over 60 years ago. i can’t help but think it’s all part of a multicultural public relations campaign to attract international students, new immigrants, and tourists from the rest of Canada, who may be inclined to go… say, anywhere else instead.

surely i understand the desire to attract “foreign investment” to this province, but i could not comfortably recommend NS as a good place for any visible minority that is new to Canada. Immigrant integration services are sparse and tools to succeed as an international student suck compared to many cities in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. of course, maybe that’s the point? the province one “lands” in gets a huge lump sum, whether or not one stays. international students pay tuition fees that are nearly three times more than the price for domestic students. whereas both student groups have similar attrition rates, the internationals have often been fiercely hunted to bolster the domestics. one failed international student + one failed domestic student = tuition for one 4-year domestic undergraduate. better yet, if the international student makes it to year 2 on his/her own volition, marks for the student body go up and the university now gets the equivalent of 5-6 years of tuition.

at best, i perceive government messaging to “incorporate” immigrants as well-meaning but offensive; and partly to blame for reifying model minority stereotypes. this leaves individuals stuck on un-learning the spectrum of stereotypes from the media around them, (potentially, hopefully?, with the help of this “immigration museum”), rather than in a face-to-face dialogue.

One of two ways potential students from China are recruited includes “…shapely models in tiny silver dresses who paraded back and forth along a lit catwalk, waving scarves covered in red maple leaves and the word “Canada””, as reported by Mark MacKinnon in his article in yesterday’s Globe and Mail article. While Recruiting Chinese Students: A Work In Progress, and readers’ comments take voice many concerns, there are two that have received little or no attention: a) globalization of ideas (e.g. race, citizenship, modernity, etc.) according to neoliberal market schemes for education, and b) accountability of actors like Jin Jielie Group, that is “specializes in matching Chinese students with foreign schools”. The former is far too lengthy and complicated for me to think through and present here. The latter does not preclude responsibility of schools, governments, communities that support services of recruiters, and do not follow-through with products that can be likened to those flashed to would-be buyers, by Jin Jielie Group.

Someone must be paying Jin Jielie Group. Someone is not paying or saving from the incredible international tuition fees that Chinese and other foreign students must pay to attend school in Canada.

And while we’re at it… How about the “multicultural” ads for universities that are just not much (of anything) more than a bunch of local residents’ “next step” after high school. If universities are in the game of business (and they are), where and with whom can customers (misled as they [likely] may be) able to seek counsel? Who is accountable?!

Generally speaking, private high schools and larger universities provide excellent “customer service”. Positive student/parent experiences provide long-term outcomes and branding… here and abroad. It is the quick and dirty practices of smaller, financially insecure, reputably weaker institutions that are disconcerting. They grant admission to just about any foreign student (e.g. required LSAT score is very low, encourage non-degree status with empty promises, discriminate against them for on-campus job opportunities). These smaller schools push the photo of token multiculturalism, but after first installments of international student tuition is banked, students are left to fail and go home in shame.

In consideration of school reputations worldwide, small & weak Canadian schools have sought low levels to compete. It’s a sexy sham.

My advice: small or large university, stick to those with better research reputations. They are less likely to cheaply sell themselves (unfortunately, it’s because they need good students in their puppy-mills to support research outputs, but hey! at least there’s something in it for students too).

culture, race, and food

March 12, 2010

all things (e.g. decor, ingredients, location, etc.) equal, are you willing to pay an equally high bill for “ethnic food” and “french food”?

why are we so caught up with “hole in the wall” dining establishments? is the food better? maybe.

would you eat at a dingy purveyor of california cuisine?

why are people so hung up on the skin colour of the chef, rather than his/her skill set?

ever heard of ethnically Chinese people rationalizing giving lower tips at Chinese restaurants?

please leave contact info if this post is of interest to you. i’m looking to start discussions towards action!

big bad chinese mama website

September 11, 2008

i will write about this soon, but for now… please check’er out. i nearly snorted tea out of my nose.

http://www.bigbadchinesemama.com/

DO ASIAN MEN HAVE MUCH (if any) INTEREST IN BLACK WOMEN? 
The following post is written in response to a curious blog reader of the post, “interracial approach to asian women” found on this very same blog: ignorance could have been bliss.
I opted for a separate posting since, while many of the considerations are the same (e.g. thoughts re: the “stuff” of dating as it pertains to individuals in various inter- & intra- racial, cultural, and ethnic groups), gender can be a big deal [breaker] when it comes to interracially dating wherein one partner is “asian”.
Below, I try (to be brief, but detailed) about interracial approaches to dating asian men. But first, of course, I must direct readers to the same ol’ precautions.
I would also like to add that, unlike my broader and generalized approach about asian women (AW) based on my frequent communication with members belonging to this group in and from various part of world, what I write here is mostly based on my interactions with asian men (AM) in North America – specifically, across Canada, New York City, and Chicago. I suspect however, that parallels could be drawn between California and Toronto…but that’s another story.
And finally, (my last precursor, I promise!), I’ve cut & pasted in the comments (in italics) from the reader I mentioned above in order to maintain a sort of dialogue. Talk with us!
Back to the topic:
DO ASIAN MEN (AM) HAVE MUCH (if any) INTEREST IN BLACK WOMEN (BW)? 
I do realize with the worship of whiteness, many non-whites would choose a white over a black, never giving a black person a chance, even if the black person is decent and law-abiding, and has high morals.
By “person”, and in reference to the question, the comment suggests some “good” BW may be being overlooked. Yes, I tend to think that AM are much less likely to have an interest in BW. There are certainly many speculative reasons as to reasons why. I hash out a few below, of which I think they work in concert to the effect of an uneven interest among AM to BW. BUT! I really do believe this begin way BEFORE the BW – good or bad – ever enters the mind of AM.

BEFORE…

BM are:
… sexualized/machoified (haha – I made that up!, you know, tough, thug, “bad boy”, hyper-masculinization, etc., e.g. stereotypes of large, strong body parts, protection). Yes, I know BM are also de-sexualized too (e.g. stereotypes of disease, downlow, etc.), but follow me with this one…

AM are (in contrast to BM):
… asexualized/feminized (e.g. stereotypes of small, skinny, weak body parts) and this is internalized as low self-confidence (e.g. ‘I can’t get a BW’ that they assume would want what is “natural” (e.g. intraracial dating) and socially“desirable”(e.g. macho men).

AFTER…

distinct stereotypes about BW (e.g. strong, angry, loud, etc.) and AW (e.g. pleasers, quiet, subservient, “natural” as an intraracial partner for AM, etc.)

then, squish’em all together:
Without ever really consciously thinking about any of the above, the AM is often convinced they are ‘just not attracted to black women’.

Interestingly revealing however, is that the discourse that AM have about AW dating interracially. In contrast to the saying amongst BW in reference interracial dating amongst BM, along the lines of “there’s no/so few good black men”, I have known many AM to say things like, “we didn’t want her anyways” or “they (men of other race) get our garbage”. In a very sour grapes way, the AM exudes their discomfort and low-confidence around dating dynamics.

Of course, there are those AM that see past all of the squish (e.g. a few of my male friends and my brother date women of any race, culture, ethnicity). I call them the AM ALL-AROUNDERS in a post to follow…

my 1st blog bash/bully

February 11, 2008

everyone is entitled their own opinion. i almost always feel that if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all (re: bambi or was it thumper?). however, a couple of days ago i happened upon a blog that completely outraged me. i will not be tracking or pinging (or whatever it is) back to it b/c i just don’t think the blogger even deserves it.

basically, an excerpt appeared in my tag surfer along the line that led to a raised eyebrow. something along the lines of:

“chinese girls are so great and all i have to do is sit here at starbucks and they come back to the hotel with me.” 

i was hooked. i clicked. i thought, ‘please tell me this is a freakin joke or there’s some substantive twist’.

on the blog, i finished reading the post that ended with the blogger noting that:

“i can get hot chicks here when nobody at home looks my way”

ok. poorly written. i tried to give this blogger the benefit of the doubt. perhaps, perhaps, he’s pulling some kind of satirical gag. or maybe, maybe he just doesn’t know any better – duh, you’re white, people are going to look when you are in asia. or maybe he’s…

i just wanted to believe that someone so scuzzy wouldn’t be blogging about it.

i then click on his ‘about’ page.

*bleepin* loser is a 60 yr old white male who acknowledges he can’t get any play at home and so is banging and blogging his way through asia.

i can’t even express how frustrated his blog made me. even after trying to forget about it, i was still boiling.

so i graced his blog with another hit and left a harsh comment.  i wrote about his whiteness sticking out and that he should not feel so special. i commented that those women he was taking to the hotel to bang were likely looking for more (e.g. a ticket out, a relationship) and that he was being exploitive. i asked him to consider why if no one at “home” would look at him, why WHY why did he think women in asia would?

surprise surprise, my comment was never cleared.

i know it takes 2 to tango, and those “asian beauties” have a role to play in his asian adventure. i’m frustrated with a lot of things. but i see their situation to be a lot more influenced by structural constraints. let’s not even begin with colonialism and…

call me bias, a bully, a bash, but i’m still bothered by this.