Yes, I'm Asian..But I'm A Scorpio Too

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Last week, BlogHer published this article by Grace Hwang Lynch regarding the now viral (Twitter) movement#NotYourAsianSidekick.  In sum, this movement started by Suey Park, aims to start a conversation about the lack of representation of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women.  It aims to fight stereotypes given to Asians (Asian women in particular) and highlights the fact that Asian women are still often times marginalized when it comes to debates on gender equality and / or race.  White feminists sometimes don't give enough voice to Asian women's struggles, while debates on race are often times limited to the struggles of blacks in a white-dominated society. 
 
Reading about it reminded me of one term that annoys me to death as an immigrant.  I know it's a term not confined to Asians alone but it has everything to do with race and stereotypes.

 

 

To those who have never heard of this term before (and yes, I know there are some who haven't because I only also learned of this nine years ago), it stands for 'fresh off the boat'.  It refers to immigrants who have just entered another country (in my case the United States) and have not yet fully assimilated into that host country's culture.  

I find this term utterly derogatory.  Someone used this term on me nine years ago, and though I know this person didn't mean it maliciously, I still took offense.  To me, usage of this implies that you are viewing the other person as less than you in some way.  When people use this term to refer to someone, it's usually to make fun of the other person (the immigrant) because that person is not doing something 'right' based on social norms; perhaps not speaking 'right' because of a certain foreign accent; or 'knows less' simply because he / she has not been exposed enough to the new culture or is not yet accustomed to the 'new ways'.  Whatever it is, one can't deny that it's a term that differentiates in a negative way, in my view.  

And I. Dont. Like. It.  I almost bitch slapped that person who used that term on me before, but I was younger and nicer then.  I wanted soooo badly to say, "Excuse me, but first of all, I did not arrive on a boat.  Second, there is no need to think of me as completely naive about American culture because if you haven't noticed, we now live in the age of globalization.  Third...F*ck off."

It's never cool to make fun of anyone.  It's never cool to think of any one as less than you just because they are different, whether it's race, sex / sexual orientation, social class, religion, etc.  Most of all, I find it most uncool when people assume that it's acceptable to mistreat me, discriminate against me and spew stereotypes and other inane comments because I'm an Asian female who will most likely just keep quiet and not fight back.  I may not be abrasive, nor scandalous.  But I'm pretty sure I have pride and am smart AND educated to utter a witty comeback, or maybe plot a really creative revenge!   

I'm Asian after all, right?  

Image Credit: Mark Fischer via Flickr

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