Ok, everyone always told me Cupertino was a bubble. Academic bubble, socioeconomic bubble, Asian bubble, safe bubble... no one ever told me it was a bubble of racial attitudes (and I don't just mean the stereotypes). Did you know that Jap is not a nice word? I didn't know until last night. I've used it for 6 years to refer to my Japanese class, and no one ever said anything. Either they don't care or they don't know. I am also not the only one to have used it that way. And a thousand other things that maybe I finally picked up weren't so nice later on... like the ghetto pronunciation of Negro. I first read it in Huckleberry Finn when I was in elementary school where it's used casually to refer to black people/slaves. The word sounds cute to me. It makes me think of little things. But then when we read Huck Finn in high school, my teacher wouldn't say it, and I didn't get it. It's because I've never heard that word used before, outside of that book. In any context. And you wouldn't know it for any derogatory term unless you heard it in context. Chinaman sounds like a man from China. Cracker sounds like a food. Jap sounds like an abbreviation of Japanese. It doesn't sound bad until you hear it in that context, and I've never heard them in that context (ok, I've heard "dirty Jap" before, but I thought it was the dirty part that made it not nice, not the Jap part). And I've never heard them in that context because Cupertino is a ... racial bubble? I dunno. Like I read a compilation of anecdotes of the experiences of Asians in America, from Berkeley students. They talked about getting made fun of for the way they talked when they were little. I was never made fun of. And no, I didn't know English when I started school. I talked to my friends in Chinese and got in trouble for not following directions I couldn't understand. But no ridicule from peers. And that wasn't even in California. But I guess not all places are like that. 

And sorry for throwing those not-nice words around, but please understand that I'm not calling anyone that. I think real racism should die. I understand the gross history of blacks and whites. I try to be sensitive to that, and now I'm trying to be sensitive to these things too. I'm just not really sometimes, because my environment didn't teach me to be. Which is good, I guess, because it means I've never seriously encountered it. Racism is at least dead in part of the world. Or maybe it's just me in that sheltered bubble and I'm just really completely oblivious to racism in Cupertino? No way. 

Making fun of (not in jest) an Asian is like making fun of a white person in my mind (which is like making fun of a black or Hispanic person, or whatever). I don't get it. I don't get the point. You wouldn't make fun of (not in jest) the majority because they're normal/standard/plain. And you wouldn't make fun of the minority because that's just picking on someone weaker and shows you're wayy too desperate for superiority you obviously don't already have. There's no one left. I don't get it. (But then, I also don't get why racial jokes are offensive. I think the blindfolding the Asian guy with dental floss thing is pretty funny but....) I know not everyone thinks like me, and I doubt anyone reading this is seriously racist, but racist people need to think with their heads about what they're doing. It's dumb. And everyone else needs to find security in their own identity and stop overreacting. Yes, Asians are (often) chinky, and it's beautiful. And yes, we are men from China. 

(Ok, Monta Vistans like to make fun of Asians and whites. But not for serious. Only because we love them and we are them. Asian pride forever V)

Which reminds me, reading about people losing their home languages due to everyone else speaking English is starting to make me think that diversity may not be the best thing for society. It makes everyone the same. The only reason everyone speaks English is because everyone has a different home language. The only reason I'm losing my Chinese here at SD is because not enough people around me speak it. The people I hang out with are too linguistically diverse. Everyone's forced to speak English. You need those ethnic enclaves to keep languages and cultures alive. Mingling between different enclaves would be nice, but completely mixing them up is just destroying diversity. Forget melting pot. Forget even salad. I'm thinking different side dishes separate but touching and on the same plate. How else is the bok choy going to retain its flavor, unless it has the other bok choy to remind it of what it is, and to lend it their flavor when it starts to lose it?

1 comment:

  1. Insecure persons seem heard much more offensive words. Glad you are a proud Asian!