Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Just So Everyone Knows

I am half-Japanese. My mother was born in Japan and lived there until she was 19 and came to the U.S. to study. My father was born and raised in the U.S.

Japan is not Korea
Japan is not China
Japan is not Thailand
Japan is not Philippines
Japan is not Vietnam
Japan is not Taiwan
Japan is not Cambodia
Japan is not Myanmar
Japan is not Laos
Japan is not Singapore
Japan is not Malaysia
Japan  ≠ Asia

Japan is the only nation in Asia that I've visited. Please don't ask me about "Asian culture" or "Asian food" or "if they do this in Asia" because I've only been to one tiny nation in the ginormous blasted continent.

Don't raise your eyebrows at me once somebody starts saying that they don't like Chinese food. It's not awkward until you do it. Don't say "no offense" and then laugh when you say you don't like a certain Chinese dish. I wouldn't tell an Italian that I don't like escargot, no offense.

DO NOT ask me what the lyrics to any of Psy's songs mean. Don't do it, because I have no idea. It's just as foreign to me as it is to you.

Don't use racial slurs towards anyone. It's not nice.

My last name originated in Scotland. If you know someone of Asian ethnicity with my last name that's not one of my brother's I'm 99% sure we're not related.

Don't be afraid to ask me about my ethnic background and where it originates. I'd much rather you ask than assume. Don't be afraid to talk about it, I love talking about it. Sometimes people think they're being offensive when they acknowledge that I'm not entirely Caucasian. And then when I comment on it myself it's like I've just pulled the curtain on the Wizard of Oz. Guys, I looked in the mirror this morning, I know.

My ethnicity is a part of who I am, but isn't all that I am. It makes perfect sense to describe me as "Asian" when you're trying to identify me (especially in this overwhelming Caucasian majority I live in)  by physical appearance, but when it's anything other than that, it's unnecessary and ignorant. If there's one phrase that gets me (probably more so than the slurs, to be honest) it's "you're so Asian." What on earth (yes, those of you with telepathy, my brain said a swear instead of earth) is that supposed to mean? If I'm embodying the personality of an entire continent, I am one heck of a human being.

Why do I make all of these requests? Well, because:

Of course this is all your choice. I'm not overly sensitive or easily offended or trying to look like a victim, really. I'm just looking out for you. I'm just hoping you and your ignorant self don't get in trouble and offend someone else when it really counts.

Now you know. Why do I post this clarification instead of explaining the whole thing individually? Because:

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