As obvious as it sounds I am what I am, a British born Chinese raised by Asian parents and nurtured by the British education system. I look Asian but I’ve got a very western attitude towards life, I’am what some of my loving relatives might refer me to as “a banana”. Here are some reasons why I hate being Asian.
I hate being Asian because people make assumptions about me before they’ve met me. I’m Chinese and I wear glasses and naturally a big portion of people I meet assume I’m clever, work in IT, like playing video games and watch anime. Besides being super clever, none of the others apply, I don’t work in IT, I rarely play video games and I don’t watch cartoons anymore.
Most recently I went to view a house, I met the estate agent showing me the property and we divulged in some small chit-chat, he automatically assumed that I was really into the latest gadgets and technology what with me being Asian…. I continued the conversation with him, too polite to point out that actually I don’t really care very much about the latest technology.
A while ago there was also an admission from one of my housemate at university (you know who you are!), she apologetically and embarrassingly admitted that when she first saw me she thought I was a foreign exchange student… obviously I don’t hold this against her in any way and we still laugh about it today, but it concerns me as to how people make snap judgments about me. How am I supposed to find a girlfriend when I give off a straight off the boat vibe?
I hate being Asian because we’re misrepresented on film and TV. Think of the last time a Asian person was on film and TV without encounter one of the many clichés…goof ball with stupid accent, martial arts expert, triad member, computer hacker. Believe it or not, people are influenced by what they see, it seems that to some people I’m labelled in one of these categories (you might think it if you’ve met me but I’m not a member of the Triad).
I hate being Asian because I have an ambiguous sounding name meaning people I’ve only met via email don’t know if I’m a boy or a girl….I’ve seen a few disappointed faces when I’ve turned up for job interviews.
I hate being Asian because my parents have insisted that I keep my Hong Kong citizenship which means I have to go HK every three years to keep this, even though I don’t have really think I’ll be moving there any time soon. This usually means having to to go away in the middle of a intense film shoot, I’ve had films turn me down because I’ve booked a “holiday” during the shooting schedule.
I hate being Asian because other Asians think that we can relate because we’re both of the same ethnicity when in fact we don’t really have that much in common.
I hate being Asian because some people think it’s ok to be racist to us, “it’s just a joke” they say but you wouldn’t jokingly offend someone who’s black? Would you?
Despite me sounding like I hate myself (I really don’t) being Asian does have its perks, I secretly enjoy people assuming I’m clever, one of my favourite movie star is Jackie Chan who is a martial arts expert with a distracting Asian accent and acts like a goof ball in most of his films, I take pleasure in seeing people’s reactions when they find out I’m not some hot Asian chick and actually it’s great when you do get time off work to visit Hong Kong… one of the most amazing places on earth.
I guess my biggest problem with being Asian is the assumption of who and what you are, but who doesn’t do this? I judge the guys walking past me with tracksuits and gold rings, mothers holding babies having a smoke, the beautiful brunette who gets the same bus as me every day to work and the homeless guy who’s drinking cider at 08:30am in the morning outside my flat, I’ve judged them all before knowing anything about them. I accept I’m Asian and I don’t hate it, yes people will have preconceptions of who I am but I think I’m ok with this… judge all you like because what’s most important is that I’m comfortable in my own skin.