Being Asian, my Authenticity is Questioned

photoColette
Sacramento, CA

“I love Asian girls”
“I love Japanese people”
“Konnichiwa”
“Ni hao”
“Sayonara”
“Kamsammida”
‘Your a bad Japanese. You don’t know Japanese.’
“Are you Chinese?”
“I don’t think people in Osaka speak Kansaiben”
“I know Chinese”
“You look the most Japanese”
“You could be an other Asian too”

One Caucasian man approached my friends and I at a local pizza place and in a matter of 10 minutes, he say every problematic thing ever to us Asian Americans. We told him that we were born in this country and that we speak English, etc. But that didn’t stop the “konnichiwa’ or “nihao.”
Who is he to say that we were bad Japanese for not knowing how to speak Japanese? Who is this person who thinks he can measure our authenticity? He is nobody. This experience similar to the “where are you from?” question that always pops up, is the struggle of Asian Americans who are still seen as the Perpetual Foreigner.

Keep the conversation going - comment and discus with your thoughts

  • ThomasV

    “He is nobody.” You hit the nail on the head. Ignore him. Don’t make an issue out of it. Enjoy being yourself. Just be proud of yourself.

  • merlin1935

    As an African I can tell you that if Black Americans feel they do not have a “homeland”, this is self-inflicted in the 21st Century. A good number of Black Americans are ashamed to identify with Africa because of the negative imageries of poverty, disease and war. Thus Black Americans make little effort to visit Africa and see for themselves, let alone settle.

    What some fail to ask is, if Africa was so bad a place, why is it flooded with Europeans, White Americans, Indians, and recently, the Chinese? Before I came to the US 17 years ago, I was a professional in my homeland in West Africa. I could count the number of Black Americans I encountered on the fingers on one hand. But White people were all over the place doing business and getting rich.

    Why? The average Black American would rather spend $2000.00 on a Caribbean cruise than $2000.00 on an educational tour of an African country. Admittedly, some of my friends want to visit, but they want to go with me but cannot strike out on their own.

    I don’t deny that slavery was gravely injurious, but in this 21st Century there should be no reason for a disconnect.

    Until 1948, Jews were scattered all over the world for 2000 years. But they never lost their connection to Israel. I ask my Black American brothers and sisters to do more to explore Africa for themselves, and not rely on TV imageries, or even second hand accounts of Africans such as myself.

  • merlin1935

    I certainly can relate to the persistent question “Where are you from?” As a first generation immigrant American with an accent, I understand and expect it. But it must be tough for Colette who was born here without a trace of accent.

 

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