Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All look same?!

Last week I went to an "Asian"-themed party. It's fucked, I know. Despite some initial reservations, I tried to quiet that inner voice and went anyway. It was a birthday party for a girl who is half-Asian, and she decided to celebrate her Asianess by making it the theme. So up went the red lanterns, on went the Japanese pop and out came the stereotypes. Imagine my horror when I, and other Asians at the party were introduced as "resident" Asians. Fuck, is right.

I even got asked: So, can you tell other Asians apart?

And yes, it is 2010.

The thing that really got me was the fact that this party was supposed to be a lark. That somehow racism, when under the guise of a joke or being funny, is supposed to be acceptable. When did being pegged as a "resident" minority become hilarious? And that somehow, if I don't see the humour in there, that I should lighten up. It's like being rounded up and branded with a scarlet letter "A" for all to see. As if I didn't already know that I was a minority in what is supposed to be a multicultural country, a city with a "harmonious hodgepodge of religions and cultures".

I know it's human to latch onto things that distinguishes a person from another. Person A wears glasses, person B has blonde hair. It's a weird thing to have your ethnicity constantly be pointed out or be the forefront to what others see.

You'd think I'd be used to it by now. I may be used to it, but it doesn't mean it bothers me any less. Having travelled around, my ethnicity has often been on the first (and sometimes only) thing people see. Sure, it's an aspect of me but it doesn't define all of me. It would be naive to think that people do not judge others on first impressions -- a person may have a snaggletooth or a lazy eye -- but does that mean you have to point it out? As if the other person isn't already aware of it.

It's ironic since what makes me "different" doesn't even make me distinguishable from another Asian. An example: A few weeks ago, an acquaintance (I've since downgraded his status from "friend" to "acquaintance" because after a year and a half, he still did not know my name despite us having hung out several times before). He called me Sandra. My name is not Sandra. I have never been named Sandra. Sandra is the name of a friend of a friend who moved to New York. FOUR YEARS AGO. Apparently we look alike. We're both Asian. I guess this acquaintance never bothered to notice that we were TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. And this shit happens all the time. Even to media personalities on television.

Michael Phelps recently thought Lainey Liu of was the same girl in Scotty Lago's inappropriate medal-biting photos. So of course, the natural conclusion to jump to for Lago is to think that Lainey is part of some insane conspiracy to bring him down.

Phelps and Lago may have the muscles, but I also thought they had eyes. Eyes that could look at someone's face and distinguish differences in features, height, age from another person.

Hello, Racial Profiling. I do believe you've met Mr. Phelps and Mr. Lago. I, too, however, have had the misfortune to make your acquaintance.

P.S. I am not in either of the above photos.

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