I would like to first begin with this little dialogue from the show Parks and Recreation, season two, episode two:
Leslie Knope: You’re not from here, right?
Tom Haverford: No, I’m from South Carolina.
Leslie Knope: But you moved to South Carolina from where?
Tom Haverford: My mother’s uterus.
Leslie Knope: But you were conceived in Libya, right?
Tom Haverford: Wow. No. I was conceived in America. My parents are Indian.
Leslie Knope: Where did the name Haverford come from?
Tom Haverford: My birth name is Darwish Zubair Ismail Gani. Then I changed it to Tom Haverford because you know…
I am genuinely curious — here’s a question for you, your Asian American friends, or any friend from an immigrant family:
How often do your parents tell you stories of adversity or proud moments in your family’s history?
Or if your parents are first generation, how many stories have you heard about what it was like growing up in Asia? Or even what your grandparents did for work?
I remember when I first heard about Tinder. I promised myself I wouldn’t download the app. For some reason, I thought nobody would swipe right on me. Everybody around me was white, and I was not. I didn’t think anyone would want to date me.
But the opposite happened.
I had many matches. Perhaps too many. The first messages I got from these men made me uncomfortable.
I have never tried a woman like you before. Will you be my first experience?
You look so exotic, I love that.
Asian girls are my favorite. They’re so naughty!
These kinds of…
“Do you consider yourself British?”
“Yes, I was born and raised here.”
“Then you’ll never be happy.”
I laughed but stopped when I realized it wasn’t a joke. A smirk spread across the other man’s face. He was enjoying my discomfort. I forced myself to stay calm to spoil his fun.
He knew he had my attention so explained he had been working on a research project. The project would examine the happiness levels of people who were the first generation in their family to be born in a Western country.
According to him, these people would never truly be…
The perception of us as Asians who happen to be in America, as opposed to Asian Americans, is so deeply rooted that even well-meaning efforts like Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month features put their foot in it.
Now that we’ve wrapped up AAPI Heritage Month, I want to point out something that I found very jarring. Many music streaming services and music companies highlighted AAPI Heritage Month on their platforms. That is awesome. However, while some did it well, others only further proved how deeply ingrained the “othering” of AAPI artists is in the industry. I preface this…
When I hear about BIPOC Americans who grew up surrounded by white families, I imagine how difficult life must have been for them. There’s no way to blend into the background when you’re the only one who looks different.
I had a far different experience growing up in Northern California. As a child, I was never the only Asian American student at my public schools, let alone the only one in my class. I always had at least two other Asian Americans in every class and sometimes far more. There is safety in numbers. …
The moment only lasted a few seconds — a minute or two — but it has stuck with me. My friend and I were walking my dogs when a man verbally insulted us. Before walking away, with a look of disgust planted across his face, he said we were “Asian whores who are dirtier than dogs.”
Today, we find ourselves amidst a social virus that has infected our society to its core. Hate is spreading throughout America.
The pandemic has brought upon a rising tide of hate crimes in the Asian community. Tragically, many of these crimes have targeted elderly…
Sometimes my mother comes home exasperated from running errands — not because of long lines at the store or the stress of trying to shop safely during the Covid-19 pandemic but rather from the experience of being harassed as an Asian woman. She’ll mask her frustration as she unloads her shopping bags and tells a story of being pestered by yet another stranger who mocked her in a pseudo-Mandarin language and demanded to know if she’s Chinese. The most recent antagonist was a non-Asian man who followed her around Costco. …
In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and Baron Helmut Zemo fly to Madripoor, which Bucky describes as “an island nation in the Indonesian archipelago.” This fictional island nation is like the fictional countries of Wakanda and Sokovia in that they don’t exist in the real world but are anchored by surrounding real-life countries and places.
With Wakanda located in Africa, Sokovia in Europe, and Madripoor in Southeast Asia, it would make sense to see Black people in Wakanda, white people in Sokovia, and Southeast Asians in Madripoor. The phenomenal movie Black Panther does indeed show…
H Mart was my saving grace during this year of Covid-19 because while the grocery store literally across the street had massive lines 24/7, I could breeze into H Mart, like any Asian restaurant at this time, and it would be almost empty except for fellow Asians, all excellently masked. I could be in and out in 15 minutes, a Dr. Fauci-approved amount of time for indoor contact, grateful that for a change I could make racism work for me. …
A Medium blog chronicling the xenophobia and anti-Asian racism that plagues America.