Tuesday, December 17, 2013

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

Two days ago, 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?  


  1. Who likes stereotypes? Not just Asians, and considering that Asia is an enormous continent with an enormous variety of ethnic races and cultures, the term "Asian" is off the mark. Stereotypes in this country where almost everyone is descended from immigrants can be offensive, ignorant, and downright demeaning, but for the same reason Americans feel a need to racially/culturally label every foreigner. I like to say I'm Mexican and almost invariably the person says, "But you don't look Mexican" meaning I'm not dark-skinned, which is unintended racism. I get a lot of "we don't do or say things like that in the US" and I'm tempted to tell the person that their American way is not the only or even the right way. To someone who uses the F.O.B. term you should pull out all your smart, educated, proud, and creative self and tell them that you find this incredibly offensive. Nothing like the truth.

  2. I'd never heard that term before. Oooohhhhh creative revenge...

  3. I had never heard it before. That said, I sometimes think that I have developed a serious case of selective hearing.

  4. What a shame that such terms are created and used, I remember it from the days when it referred to refugees from Vietnam. When I was on a holiday in the US somebody called me a white ass, coming from Switzerland I am not used to being called names and I did not outwardly react but I recall the slightly uneasy feeling. I am not saying we do not have any ethnical or racial conflicts in our country and labeling and stereotypes can be found here as well.
    Like you said it is never cool to make fun of anybody and being judgmental reveals the person's own way of thinking. Here's to creative revenge on any offensive remarks! And maybe a wish for 2014 to banish all stereotypes!


Let me know your thoughts!