I was excited today to support my Eurasian sister, Marie Digby, who is Japanese and Irish, buying her new album ‘Breathing Underwater’ on Amazon. She’s a talented singer songwriter popstress. You’ve possibly heard her voice as a backdrop to many TV shows like ER, Greek, The Hills and Smallville. Hmm, someone at the WB likes her.
In the last week or so, I’ve been out and had people at parties make tons of questionable comments because they were the only white person at a social event that was mostly Asians. That apparently gives them the right to make more outrageous comments that yeah, go to that overused word …the ‘r’ word. You know, talking about race in last year’s elections was not to be spoken of until Obama won and then the white men on CNBC were ready to proclaim they never thought they’d see the day when a black man was president, all the while they were cutting off the only African American on the panel trying to express his feelings on the matter, um thanks Chris Matthews.
While our society has ‘progressed’ in many ways, I wonder if that’s just now given people license to make race jokes. I found myself seriously taken aback when watching ‘The Real Housewives of Atlanta’ that Nene would feel, because she is another minority that it’s okay for her to go around calling Kandi ‘hood’ and even really turned off when she proclaimed that Lisa, who Nene knew was blasian, was black, not Asian. It was boderline offensive. Now, have we just gotten so sensitive or do we prefer to let things slide by because it’s easier? Is it a sign of Nene’s ‘blindness to color’ or wanting to claim Lisa as ‘just black’ because she feels so close to her? I don’t know. Lisa made her comfortable and answered her ridiculous questions brushing it off as being a good hostess and ‘that’s just Nene.’ Sorry Nene, you can’t claim Lisa and disregard half of who she is in this life.
When I was hired to work Michelle Branch a few years ago, she turned into Avril Lavigne, giving curt, monosyllabic answers when it came to her Asian heritage. It really changed my opinion of her and started brewing things in my head. I was embarrassed,having been hired to set up interviews for her in the Asian community at sites like Eurasian Nation.
A few years ago a friend of mine who works in research hired me to help on some focus groups. She said Asians just buy what whites buy so she never bothered including them in minority opinions, that was for the African American and Latino communities. Um, WHAT?! I didn’t say anything because I was thinking ok, she is from a different generation and grew up in Germany, where it’s definitely less PC than America.
I didn’t get upset or cross but does that mean I’ve become so used to this kind of thing or letting things ride so much I don’t say things just to make it easier? It certainly doesn’t make it easier for me. The same research friend had me over at her apartment for brunch last years (4 years after the original comments.) She told me and her other guest (who is Latina) that the only problem with her new neighbourhood was that her fellow subway passengers were ‘off the boat from China’ and not as good looking as the Manhattan crowds she was used riding alongside in their glamour. Then she proceeded to ask us a few minutes later if we knew any Chinese Americans she could use for focus groups for a new client. I replied that I hoped so since I am Chinese American. My friend then proceeded to try to back track on her earlier comments and insist that I wasn’t Chinese, that I had told her that I was a Latina. Uh, what? Why would I ever do that? She’s been there when other people ask me my ethnicity.
How much do we allow to be swept under carpet because we don’t want to cause waves? Am I a bad party guest if I school another guest or should I just accept that maybe they are uncomfortable and making stupid comments puts their insecurities at ease for once being the only one person around? What about my comfort?
Did it ever feel good to have people look at me holding my Irish Dad’s hand as a kid and asking him about adoption? No. Did it feel good when I got older and people then asked if we were dating? Grooooossss. Hell no. I’m not letting my voice be silenced any more to make other people comfortable.
Why am I excited about supporting another Eurasian, Marie Digby? I like her music, sure, and maybe I would’ve just bought a single or two, but not only do I believe in supporting new artists, I want my race which – is not even counted as part of the Asian population of this country, but thrown into the ‘other’ category to be acknowledged on a race form! It’s not fun to always have to choose ‘other’ on job applications. So I’m using the only color that really matters in this country, my GREEN! (money not environment!) power.
I received a call from a friend about my blog. He said he was expecting more fury from me on the subject. Everyone has a first step on not letting things slide. It did make me think about last year after the elections, talking to a friend of mine. I told her I was ‘numb’ due to personal on-going crisis. I was aware that she had said she was voting for the first time ever in an election. I wanted to get her opinion as she wasn’t very vocal about it. She couldn’t tell me why she voted for Obama, other than he was black and she felt a tremendous weight had been lifted off of her. Somehow it came up she considered me white– she’s African American, and that she never really paid attention before when candidates were white.
So, yeah there’s been plenty of times I’ve scratched my head at other minorities not recognizing I’m a minority because apparently their ‘majority minority’ is more impactful than mine and again, should just be lumped in with the European part of my heritage. Say what?
There are so many crappy things going on in life but I will say I’m certainly lucky not to be a woman in Tripoli where they hit me for not being one of them. I’m lucky for growing up in New York and not a backwater place that hangs people just for being born. I’m lucky but I’m not going to put up with being told my minority status doesn’t count. Do you think people at Irish fairs ever considered me one of them? As Rachel Zoe would say ‘baaaa-nananas.’
Now I leave you with one of my favorite song lines by The Sundays is ‘Chinese looking girlfriend with the big brown eyes’….. cause I felt I could relate to that.