My reaction to “Want to be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii”

In 1991 Spike Lee released ‘Jungle Fever’, a movie about an interracial couple. When it came out, it was making the news, but I only remember it because my brother looked at me and said, “What’s the big deal?”

I shrugged, “I have no idea.” Fast forward to 2019, he sent me a New York Times article titled, Want to be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii.

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Breaking bad Asian stereotypes

Battambang Bike tour, 2015
Sticky rice in bamboo, anyone? [Battambang, Cambodia, 2015]
First of all, as an Asian American living in Asia, this is an interesting (and dare I say, amusing) topic to investigate. I’ve been trying to understand why this is entertaining for me though. I guess because I have what I consider a more balanced view of stereotypes.

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Can you cook Thai food?

Upon learning that I am half-Thai, folks want to know, “Can you cook Thai food?” When I was younger, the answer was no. As in why on God’s green and blue earth would I want to? My mom can cook wonderfully though, thank you.

As I got older, I became annoyed by my mom’s badgering.

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May Day, Mililani Waena Elementary

What does it mean to be Asian American?

Sometimes I feel like an anomaly. I’m a 45 year old American Thai-Chinese woman who was born in Hawaii, who has lived on three continents, and who was raised by a Thai immigrant mother and a working class white male. I can’t squeeze into an “ism”. My dress size is small in America, but extra-large in Asia. I’m too American in Asia and not Asian enough in America.

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asian and white couples

What’s up with Asians and White Couples?

It’s weird, you know, being back in Thailand. There are enough White men with Asian women around for you to you raise your chopsticks and your eyebrows. Sometimes it’s the age difference that’s startling. Sometimes though you can’t really tell, as some men look older than their age, and the women look (and dress) younger than they really are. Often foreigners are trying to guess if the woman is a ‘lady of the night’ or a proper girlfriend.

Thais couldn’t care less. They are so over it.

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Green plant patch growing out of concrete

The problem with creatives, Asian daughters, and non-conformists.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – as attributed to Mike Tyson

OK. Here’s what I’ve told you. I had to come back to the US of A. We were not sure for how long, but we thought we’d give it a go, you know, return to America for good, regardless of Trump-apocalypse, blah, blah, blah, and see what we could make stick.

Staying with my mom in Hawaii was part of the short-term plan, but when our long-term plans fell spectacularly through the roof, we were tail-spinning, reaching for whatever vines or debris was there to grab on to.

Yeahhh.

You think I’m exaggerating.

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I’m Chinese, but I’m not Chinese

little boy in chinese lion dragon costume
Who are we behind the costume? [Chiang Mai, 2014]
On a regular basis, I’m mistaken for being Chinese – as in from the Motherland, China, Chinese. Now, to be fair, I look pretty damn Chinese, but these days it’s getting ridiculous.

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