Wednesday, November 28, 2007


In a discussion I had with a friend about prominent Asian-American males in American society, she brought up a certain individual named Keni Styles, who is the first Asian-American straight male porn star and is making a big impact in Europe. Considering that European trends end up in America eventually, I see this as a positive sign that Asian-Americans can be shown in ANY light that is not restricted to that of being weak, effeminate, nerdy, shy, quiet... or violent and prone to killing outbursts. To be free to be seen in a manner of your choosing is a powerful thing, a goal that I am trying hard to accomplish and will dedicate my life for this ideal.

In one of more heated discussions today in recent memory, I need to say that I agree with Todd's opinion in that ethnic minorities need to stop pitting themselves against "The Man" and focus more on establishing their own identities. While it is important to recognize the argument that to create one's identity as someone of minority background will be difficult when society prevents you from doing so because of the majority population being white, it becomes counter-productive to dedicate all of one's energy into creating something that says, "I am everything non-white" when it really should be focused on creating "I am whoever I want to be". I recently believed that I have finally found out my own identity but I still feel discomfort whenever I see a large group of Koreans huddling together, speaking Korean, and immediately I feel like I can never be a part of that because of my poor grasp of the language as well as their common interests that I find no interest in whatsoever. Because of that, maybe I haven't found what my identity truly is because I must accept that I am of Korean blood and to feel alienation and sometimes embarrassment for people who are comfortable with their Korean culture means that I am not comfortable with myself entirely.

What I am comfortable with and what I will defend vehemently is everything that defines what I do in my everyday life, the people I hang out with, the things I like, and how I see the world as a whole. I used to accept the term that I was a Twinkie and there was a time when I used that as a medal of pride that I would wear proudly. But to love theater, to enjoy 70's rock music, to devour eight Hardee's burgers in one sitting, to be fiercely open about his own feelings and express it as so, I've come to believe that this is me. Maybe some of my interests were indeed influenced by my American upbringing but I know for sure that I have been exposed to so many different people, their way of life, their cultures, their quirks across different continents that what has truly shaped me is difficult to pinpoint and label.

Maybe the definition of white America is to lose all of one's identity and go along with the consensus of the majority. Maybe white America is still America as a whole and because of that, ethnic minorities are struggling to establish their own identities without being pressured to change because they are too "Asian", "Latino", "black". There is uncertainty in this day and age whether we are still the victims of oppression or whether we have the freedom now to move on from the pain that defined our past into a future where there are no limits. I've realized more and more that I start to call myself an American and not a Korean-American anymore and correct others if I'm Asian. Is this me losing my identity, as some people would say? Am I being pressured to cast aside the Asian in my label because I feel it does not suit me?

In the end, I believe that being an American means you can come from all over, be proud or shameful of your native culture that you may or may not know anything about and still enjoy eating galbi and bi-bim-bob while also having fries and some tandoori chicken on the side.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The First Asian Immigrants

It is interesting to note that when the first Asian immigrants came to the U.S. around the 1850's, they were welcomed with open arms by the native citizens who were already living there. They even went so far as proclaiming that the Chinese and the whites can be united as one to making America a more prosperous nation to be. Which is also interesting because the white Americans could not say the same for the black slaves that were soon to be emancipated decades later. However, the opinion of the Chinese immigrants soon changed as more and more came to American shores and soon became a competitive threat to the white labor. Because of this threat, the white folks became scared and reacted by developing laws and treaties to expel the incoming Asian immigrants and to treat the immigrants already settled as an internal racial group only suited for cheap, efficient labor.

It strikes me that the racism and hatred that began brewing as the Asian immigrants came in by the thousands was an incredibly simple animal response twisted with human rationality. Animals are threatened by the unknown and competition and hence they do their best to drive them away. Humans feel exactly the way, but the only difference is that humans don't simply drive the strange people away with sheer physical force and intimidation (although they do this as well), but with their rational responses of degrading the different-skinned foreigners as inferiors in every facet.

But humans are capable of using their rational faculties for the betterment of mankind, instead of using it to shut off the unknown and the unfamiliar. While the animal in us makes us want to stay by our comfort zones, we are capable of going outside into uncharted territories and to shake hands with whatever is out there. However, it does not stop there since what happens when the unknown enters into our comfort zones and we feel threatened, as the white Americans felt threatened by the masses of Chinese immigrants? The answer then becomes complicated as only a naive fool can say that endless flows of immigrants can come into a space, and like any space, only so much can occupy it before it overflows. But we must not let that intertwine with the irrational fear that the unknown will take over our way of life. For if we do, we will not close off space because there really is not much to share but merely because we just don't like these strange foreign people. By doing that, we are only limiting our potentiality to truly understand life in its vast potential and only remain huddled in our comfortable shells.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Racist against the White Man?

Shortly after posting my last blog, I immediately remembered a slight argument I had with a friend back in Korea during the summer. It was a blunt sarcastic comment that I made that offended my friend and it made me realize that I have some bias of my own that I need to look into. My friend is a half-Caucasian, half-Korean, but he can definitely pass off as the former, rather than the latter. For this, I simply called him off as a white man with benefits that no Asian man can ever have. This stung him because he truly saw himself as both, no racial heritage that he preferred or enjoyed over the other.

And then I realize, in a way, I am racist against Caucasians. I look at every white man and woman and my immediate first impression is to guard myself in that he or she would see me as an effeminate/incapable/impotent Asian man. I get severely annoyed when people think I'm good or bad at something because I'm Asian. I get seriously irked when I see a white man and an Asian woman together and overjoyed when it's vice versa with an Asian man and a white woman. While simply relying on "Yellow Fever" would be a weak reason for my disgruntlement, I cannot help but look in disgust when I see a jock/army type white man with an Asian woman clinging at his side. "DIRTY WHORE" immediately jumps into my head for the woman and as for the man, well, I can only dream of whopping his ass as I grumble to myself how that's just impossible.

So it's certainly not hatred that I feel for the white man but it's certainly not tolerance either. I can only say that I indeed harbor racist feelings for white people as I have always felt that they are the prime example of a race who has embarrassed, humiliated, and victimized people like me for not being as competent and capable as they are. It may be years of white women laughing me off as a "fortune cookie" and the men who think I'm gay or have a penis in the microscopic portion (or no penis at all, as some white men seem to think Asian men are eunuchs).

My sophomore year has been valuable in redefining how I think about myself and my comfort in dealing with people's ignorance and jokes about the Asian race. While my suspicions about the White Man will never cease, I can at least grow comfortable with the ones that I call my dear friends. I think this is reflected in my willing decision to stick with the Superman musical that is happening this fall semester, even though I am casted as a stereotypical Chinese villain (with the only minorities in the play casted as my villainous sons). I've always raised hell that I'm not fucking Chinese, and here I am, highly amused of being this character because he is such a zany character to play.

I believe I've gone off on a tangent here. This new topic will be dealt with separately when I have given more thought about it.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Asian American "History"

Asian American History...if we took out "American" from that term, Asian History would have very little controversy since we are specifying a history that takes place in a different land. Obviously, taking out "Asian" would be deemed totally acceptable within our modern society as "American History" is a term that is most familiar. But "American History", from what we find in school textbooks and told by scholars, would simply be how the United States was formed from the perspective of the white man as he created the country into a shining beacon of freedom, democracy, and liberty for the rest of the world to look up to. Never mind the other non-white nationalities that immigrated into the country as the white man came first and whoever came first and is more prominent within a country has the greater power. It is uncomfortable for even the term "Asian American" to be used as we are familiar with "American" to be used mainly for white and black people. Considering the slavery that has taken place in America for several centuries, it is deemed politically offensive for blacks to simply be called "Africans" as their ancestors suffered to live in America and with the civil rights acts, it has been ingrained into the American mindset. But for every other race that has immigrated into this country, their hardships are deemed minor and thus are not consciously seen as Americans. It has become familiar to address Asians as only Asians even if they were born there and thus giving a significant word such as "history" to Asian Americans can be indeed seen as controversial.

Familiar does not mean we should take it with our heads down and our hands behind our backs. Familiar does not mean that we should simply accept because somebody told us that it was otherwise and that it should be taken for granted. With this said, we must be re-educated in the sense that that being an American truly means an individual who has come to this country to live a new life, regardless of where they came from. To become an American, it does not mean we need to assimilate our cultures, our identities, our names to a Euro-centric standard. That is not the true definition of being an American but only an outdated and narrow-minded conception of what an American is supposed to be. As Ronald Takaki would say, "We need to "re-vision" history to include Asians in the history of America, and to do so in a broad and comparative way". These words cannot be stressed enough how important it is to give Asian Americans the right to tell their complete history in all educational facilities in America. Though it may take a while for the history of Asian Americans to appear no larger than a margin in school textbooks, small steps such as this very course we are taking are significant to the process of creating a better and more open-minded future.