The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.

Comedienne Esther Ku Reponds to Asian Critics

An e-mail from an Asian Zatch
by Esther Ku (notes) Today at 06:37
from Zatch Pouchprom
to ku@funnyku.com
date Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 10:41 PM
subject You should be ashamed of yourself.

Ms Ku,
Let me start out by saying that I’m a American man of Asian descent in my 20’s. You and I are from the same generation so I’m sure that we grew up with the same media and the same cultural environment.

After seeing your act on Youtube and having had to tolerate the same garbagr from Bobby Lee on tv for the last 8 years, I feel it is important to write you this email.

You are continuing in the long tradition of Asian “step-n-fetch its” acts that started with Charlie Chan and then went from Charlie Chan to Hop Sing to Long Duk Dong to Wiliam Hung to Bobby Lee and now you.

I grew up in the South, from elementary school up into high school I was the only Asian face in the class. Everyday it was me having to punch another kid for slanting their eyes at me or doing the “Ching Chong Ching Chong” thing (I know you know what I’m talking about) then in high school it progressed to cracks about eating dogs and having a small dick.

I’ve been 6’1 220lbs since I was a freshmen, so I was able to kick the crap out of most of the asshats, most other Asians are small and I’m sure didn’t have the recourse of kicking their bullies’ asses and just had to live with it.

But you know as well as I do that this has happened to every Asian kid who has ever gone to school in this country.

Why?

Because of the type of stereotypical trash that Hollywood has shoved in our face about Asians (Especially Asian men) for the last 100 years.

But thats not the worst part the worst part is that they are helped in creating this image because people like you and Bobby Lee are willing to sell out not only your racial heritage but you’re own brothers and fathers by embarassing yourselfs and re-enforcing these stereotypes with your pathetic attempts to get a few laughs from a predominately non-Asian audience.

Are you that desperate for fame? You do realize they are not laughing with you they are laughing at you.

You know what Ms. Ku one day you may have a son, and he will have to go to school and endure this type of racism because people like his mother helped create it.

You know how bad it is in hollywood for Asian Males? Jet Li once starred in a movie with a beautiful black pop Singer (Romeo must Die) who is suppose to be his “love interest”, In the movie Jet goes through hell to rescue his “love interest” going so far as to have skin ripped from his hands in a fight scene. And in the end, you know what our hero gets? A freaking half-Hug!! Its so anathema for Hollywood to portray an Asian male as anything but a Sexless, weakling, computer nerd or screaming kung fu fool that even in his OWN MOVIE the Asian hero doesn’t get a Kiss or anything.

People like James Shigeta, Bruce Lee, John Loan and Daniel Henney worked hard to force Hollywood to treat Asian Males with respect and as MEN.

People like you and Bobby Lee are doing everything you can to set the clock back even further on Asians.

You are a Disgrace.

You think that by throwing off on Asian Males that you are ingratiating yourself with non-Asian audiences but really your are just perpetuating stereotypes for yourself such as the iconic “Me Suckee suckee” or theever popular “Happy ending” bullshit.

Hollywood tells us:

Asian Men are Unattractive and “Sexless” (Even Asian Women are not attracted to them)
Asian Men have no physicality (other than kung fuing)
Asian Men are scared of all non-Asian men
Asian Men are meek and cowardly
Asian Men are silly excitable fools
Asian Men can be mocked with impunity.

Stop it Ms Ku

I know its hard to make it in show biz, but not at the expense of you degrading yourself and your heritage.

And don’t give me this crap about you trying to subtley poking fun at stereotypes, you are doing nothing of the sort. You are reenforcing them.

I know your going to say

“But Chris Rock makes jokes a about black people and Carlos Mecia makes jokes about Mexican people.” This is true, but the difference is there is always an element of pride in their humor, you can tell Chris Rock is proud to be a black man and Carlos is proud of his Hispanic Heritage. There is no pride in what you say about Asians, and the undertone of self-hate is loud and clear.

I hate to tell you but you will never be white, no matter how many white guys you date or how many times you degrade other asians.

Help empower your people not emasculate them. Asian Males have so few role models in the media to be proud of. They don’t need sell-outs like you and Bobby Lee coming along and piling on with the ridicule.

One day your Son may want to get into show biz, but because of the stuff you are doing the only roles he’ll be able to get are the William Hung type crap that Hollywood is still pushing. Is that really what you want? Because like it or not your son is going to look like the Asian guys you degrade in your act and not like those stud blond haired blue-eyed white guys you love to date.

I would suggest to you watching a documentary on Youtube called “The Slanted Screen” and how you are being part of the problem and not part of the solution.

I hope you read this Ms. Ku and I hope you think about how many people you are hurting with your “Comedy”.

————————————————– ————————————————– —–
my response … but feel free to email your own response to Mr. Pouchprom.
————————————————– ————————————————– —–

Hi Zach. What kind of Asian is Pouchprom? hahahahahahahahah. Is this a real email or are you pranking me? I can’t tell.

We may be from the same generation however, I come from a family that knows how to laugh. Laugh at people like you. Guys who feel it is important to write me this email that place me in the same category as Bobby Lee. Thanks! I’ve been trying to let him open for him at Caroline’s for years. Would you mind if I used your email as a letter of reference?

Stop trying to blame me for having grown up in the south! Your parents were the retarded ones who moved to the south. Mine went straight to Chicago with several other families so that their children could form a gang and stick with each other from kindergarten. I don’t know what you’re talking about. In our school, the Asians were the ones doing the punching. Every time my brother punched a hole in the wall, we covered it up with a painting that translated to “harmony” or “love”. Everybody was scared of the Asians in my school. You didn’t mess with the Yang’s, the Yoon’s, and definitely not the Ku’s. What I feel you maybe doing is projecting your regrets of not being able to stand up to your bullies onto me. And I refuse to stand for it.

So you’re complaining that Hollywood has been oppressing Asian men for a mere 100 years? Compared to the thousands of years that Asian women have been oppressed by their male counterparts? Then sign me up Hollywood! It’s reparations time! You guys have bound our feet, demanded hot food, clean clothes, polished nails, cute babies and happy endings for centuries. Get the fuck out of here. You’re lucky we’re not doing more damage. Oooh did we hurt your feelings? Wait. Let’s work this out the old fashioned way. Why don’t you give me your mom’s phone number and I’ll have my mom call your mom and yell at her for raising a six foot two hundred pound slanted pussy.

Is it also my fault that the audiences are predominately non-Asian? Man that’s a good point. We should market to more Asians. Can you help out? There’s a position for barker open at Stand-Up NY. I can totally get you a job so we can get that quota for Asians to match the current demographics of the US population.

Am I that desperate for fame? You think I’m famous? Yay! If you come to a show, I promise to take a picture with you afterward. Then you can tell people you met me and they will be impressed for moment if I am indeed as famous as you say I am.

So when I have my son, are you saying I should be a PTA mom? Because don’t worry I would never join the PTA. When I have kids, I will be at home with my snugly bong and be wondering if little Jimmy from Occidental College ever graduated with a degree in Bio after I helped him with his anatomy assignment.

You keep referencing me and Bobby Lee in the same sentence. Do you think we should go on tour together? Cuz that’d be so much fun! Who do you think should drive? Me or Bobby?

Hollywood tells us that Asian men are silly excitable fools? I don’t think anybody thinks that. Ever. hahahahah. Which is why Bobby Lee has a career. Don’t you get it man? He’s fighting the stereotype that you help perpetuate: the awfully boring, dorky nerd who takes himself way too seriously and whose parents thought it’d be a good idea to move in with a bunch of hillbillies.

You stop it Mr. Pouchprom. Seriously are you even Asian or are you half or something? Is your dad a pervert who only gets off on Asian porn? ew.

It is hard to make it in show biz and that’s why I want to thank you for writing this letter because I think you’ve helped me seal the deal to become the next Kim of Comedy.

Sincerely,
Esther Ku