#SorryAsianParents

A goofy kid just trying to make sense of the world while trying to be Asian American


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Let Us Celebrate 61 Years of Jackie Chan: My first Asian Hero

(Jaaaackkiieee gots jokes as he post a hipsterized pic of himself on Facebook)

By Airec Sype.

Action comedian actor director singer Jack-of-all-trades Jackie Chan celebrated his 61st birthday earlier this month. So I have to mention it; how can I have a blog that celebrates my Asian American weirdness without talking about one of my heroes JACKIE CHAN!!!

Growing up in America, there were not a lot of Asian heroes for this cute little Asian baby, who was lucky enough to be born in this great nation (MURRICA!), to look up to. Most of the heroes I (or we) had were from the relic VHS tapes that translated kung-fu movies onto giant heavy television boxes.

When I talk to some Asians and Asian-Americans about Jackie Chan, I get the conciseness that you either like him or hate him. Some Asians dislike Jackie Chan (I know this is going to get annoying but it doesn’t feel right just using his last name; there is more power and status if I just keep saying Jackie Chan) because they don’t see him as a martial artist despite him having training in multiple of different styles. But then they’re Asians, like I, who loves this man.

The legacy of Jackie Chan is his ability to combine comedy and action. There is a sense of authenticity to his work because he does almost all of his stunts himself. Uproxx has compiled a list of his notable injuries. This is because he was originally a stunt man in old martial arts films. In fact, he got hit in the face by Bruce Lee himself in a failed attempt of a sneak attack.

However, behind all the action and laughter, Jackie Chan also has a sensitive side. During a press-conference, Jackie Chan reveals how he wants to do a movie about love. Knowing that this might not be the Jackie Chan we all know, he said, “I love to produce movie which I love where I can speak what I want to speak and do what I want to do. It is not all about making money.”

Getting hit in the face by Lee and breaking almost every bone in his body all in the effort of entertaining us, that is the man behind the legend. My favorite movie will probably be Legend of the Drunken Master. That movie has the perfect combination of comedy, action and Asian boys with daddy problems . . . Oh did I forget to mention that this man can SING!!!

Oh yeah, this man got it all.

Let’s go back to this idea of Asian or Asian American heroes. Growing up there really wasn’t much for us to look up to besides these kung-fu flying, fist punching, ass-kicking action heroes. Growing up in the 90’s, the idea of an Asian American in the mainstream media was not feasible.

I’m not saying that there wasn’t any Asian heroes when I was growing up, I just didn’t know about them nor did I have the mature mental capacity to appreciate them (not saying I’m mature, I still act like a frat-boy at times). I was introduced to Yo-Yo Ma while watching an episode of PBS Arthur, but I didn’t really know who that was. There was obviously Michelle Kwan who can literally fly on ice, but I didn’t like ice skating as a kid.

Growing up, I wanted an Asian Arnold, or an Asian James Bond. These were men that I could look up to! I didn’t want the Asian henchmen in the Rambo films who gets gunned down by starving POW to be my heroes. Fu*K those guys, they were WEAK! Or I wanted a swavey Asian guy who can come into a room and swoop the girl, not the creepy four eyed Japanese pervert that the white hero was saving her from.

That is one of the things I was envious of as a kid, these white little boys had someone they could look up to; they were able to picture themselves as the hero and mainstream media reenforced that dream. So if I followed what the 90’s told me, I was bound to be a fu*king four-eyed henchmen who is perving on white woman while getting my ass-kicked by some white guy or just some nerdy sidekick who does all the math homework and robot stuff.

Blacks and Latinos were also lucky. Of course black kids had . . . well they had the whole NBA and hip-hop industry in the 90s to look up to . . . and Malcolm X and MLK. I’m not a complete racist here. And Latinos had Oscar Dela Hoya and Ricky Martin (before he came out). But there I was, thinking that my future can do no better than Mr. Miyagi. And he wasn’t even the main hero of the Karate Kid! THE KARATE KID WASN’T EVEN ASIAN! Thankfully Community fixed that.

I guess that’s why when Al from City Guys first appeared, I hung onto that character. He was one of the first Asian looking males on TV that I saw swooping girls off their feet. The same feeling of inspiration arose when I first saw John Cho in American Pie. Despite their small roles in the show or movies, their presence on the show gave me a light of hope that an Asian American male like me could one day exist in a mainstream American world where my role isn’t the nerdy foreign exchange student . . . and that I too can get cute white girls (but that’s not the point of this conversation.)

Of course now when I look at the Asian American, or just Asian in general, heroes of today, I can think of Jerry Yang, the creator of Yahoo!, or Margret Cho, or the Chinese who left their homeland and built the railroads/gold mines. I can think of people like that who risked their lives or did amazing feats instead of solely relying on action stars like Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa or any other yellow-skinned karate master. But lets not forget those two, they’re pretty badass. Oh, and that Asian kid from 21 and over, his chill-to-pull ratio was 5:5.

That is probably why when shows like Selfie, which has an Asian American male as a lead actor, gets cancelled I feel a little hurt inside. Or actions like replacing the Asian characters in movies like 21 and Dragonball: Evolution hurts the young Asian American community. I feel for the lost of an easy hero for young Asian boys to look up to, to picture themselves as a possible version of their future. Some say that the media is evil, but it was the quickest way for young minority boys like I to picture themselves in the American world. School and books and Asian doctors, pff. That didn’t matter growing up in the rough side of Visalia. Movies was our salvation for a potential better life. In a way, that sense of living vicariously through a fictional character allowed us to be hopeful of becoming a real American. It’s what the media told us.

Despite the lack of Asian males in the media, we still have mix-martial art fighters. But sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s fighting when two Asians are going at it.

Now looking at it in hindsight, we kinda all had a hero with us growing up. I didn’t realize it until I reached college and was able to think like an “adult.” My father kinda is a hero. Any minority kid can call their father a hero, a man who risk his life leaving his old country for a better life for his family, a man who slaves away at work so his children can have an American life/education. Well unless your father was a bastard, then this doesn’t apply to you.

Sure my dad was an SOB at times, but he was there for me and had my back. He didn’t know kung-fu or built robots, but he got his yellow ass over here and fertilized me on the great soil of America so that I didn’t have to make shoes for Nike.

I guess heroes are everywhere, it just took me a little while to realize it. If you’re Asian American, try to be a hero for the kids of tomorrow. Oh and I love you Jackie Chan.

 

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Exploring Microaggression: What the hell is Microaggression?

By Airec Sype

The internet has always been a hub of good ideas: if you’re into stuff like DIY’s or trying to find a non-trendy-but-trendy-hipster place to brunch, or trying to gather up magical tips to help you lose your virginity for the first time. (Porn isn’t a reliable source for educational virgin tips for getting women or losing your virginity btw. Not everyone is lucky enough to just stumble into a threesome). But if you troll the internet a lot, like I do, you will notice that it is a Wild West of ideas with raw-uncensored thoughts. Which, of course, without filtration, the internet is saturated with a lot of racist (but sometimes hilarious) comments.

Instead of me calling it “internet racism,” lets ground this phenomenon in the scholarly world. First coined by Harvard professor Chester M. Pierce in 1970, psychiatrists have described these light “insults and dismissals” as microaggression.

Derald Wing Sue, psychologist and professor at Columbia, defines microaggression as “brief, everyday exchanges that send degrading messages to certain individuals because of their group” that occurs subconsciously when no harm is intended, unaware of the unintentional offense.

For example if I said that all Asians can’t drive, or all Mexicans are illegal immigrants, or all Middle Eastern are terrorist, or all black people can rap, or all Jewish people are cheap, or . . . maybe I’ll stop there . . . then it’s a form of microaggression. I think.

In simple terms, it’s kinda racist but not, but still kinda is . . . like diet racism!!!

Since openly expressing your hate for another racial group, like lynching black people or sending Japanese people into not-so-fun-summer-camps, isn’t the cool thing to do anymore (because we all know how uncool it is to be judgmental and exclusive right bros ‘n hipsters), diet racism seems to be the new trendy form of hate. Especially on the internet. #newhatenowtrending

Sue also states that microaggression appears in four forms: microassault, microinsult, microinvalidation, and microrape. But if you want to explore more of her work or what all of those four micros mean then you can hit up the Wikipedia link provided above like I did. Especially microrape, it’s just as bad as it sounds.

Being a millennial, we have all been exposed to a misguided judgment powered by microaggression, either online or in real life.

One time my brothers and I tried going to a party on the North side in Visalia. Little did we know, it was a Norteños party (gangsters who bang red). The (Mexican) door guy told us that no Gooks were allowed. At that moment, we didn’t know why this guy was being a fucking racist. Then he proceeded to say that if we don’t bang then it’s ok and welcomed us to come in.

Being obviously dumbfounded by his second clause, we asked him to explain what a gook was to him. His definition of a gook was an Asian gang-banger . . . if he or his fellow gang-brothers had seen the movie Full Metal Jacket or took a simple high school history class, he probably would know that being a gook isn’t a simple street banger and that Charlies were also in the trees and not chocolate factories. So instead of embracing his lukewarm idiotic welcome, we decided to get the fuck out of there.

Now I know that not all of us have had access to a gang kind of experience, I know we have all seen this ignorance in the comment sections on YouTube or on Facebook.

While doing research for one of my blog post on A Dark Minded Giggle, I came across some over-generalizations of the African-American culture in the comment section of this YouTube video:

Long story short, LTG defeated Viscant (20-4) in a game of SF4, or as the gaming community we call it: a raping (yeah, we nerds can have a harsh choice of words).

LTG is African-American who presents a “thug” style. Or urban. I don’t really know what to call it. But in the YouTube comments, Uzumaki Naruto provides an explanation on why “ghetto blacks” are how they are.

so microaggressive bro

so microaggressive bro

Now is he trying to be a racist? I don’t know. I’m not a ninja like he is. He does not state that he dislikes African-Americans but offers his own scientific-sociological explanation on why “black communities” are “like that in the first place.”

He may not have malice intent, but you gotta admit that his view of African-American upbringing is pretty fucking racist.

Now let us look at some stuff online that isn’t as harsh as Naruto comments and a little bit more of a diet racism.

BuzzFeed has some examples (like my Azn brotha down there) of racial microaggression in their post “21 Racial Microaggression You Hear on a Daily Basis,” by Heben Nigatu:

Yeah, I’ve heard that one before too brotha

Or this BuzzFeed post by Tayna Chen, “21 Questions Asian Americans Are Sick of Answering

Those two BuzzFeed link shows us some examples of lighthearted stereotypes, if lighthearted racism is a thing. However, BuzzFeed has also been an unintended platform of ugly unfiltered thoughts of microaggression towards Asian Americans as well.

On January 6th, BuzzFeed requested their Facebook followers to ask questions that a civilized person might have for Asian Americans in a new segment called Ask an Asian . . . you must be an idiot or super oblivious if you didn’t know what was coming . . .

I first caught this story from the blog Angry Asian Man after my friends kept posting it to my wall. Basically, along with a some questions people had about Asian culture, there were just some racist ignorant questions.

oh yeah, what do you think was gonna happen

oh yeah, what do you think was gonna happen

here are some that made the cut

here are some that made the cut

It looks like either BuzzFeed deleted some of the comments or they’re somewhere in the “see more” section. If you visit the Angry Asian Man link that I provided above, you can see his compilation of racist questions.

Being an avid poster on Facebook, I too have witness my fair share of internet racism on my comment sections.

these are my friends

. . . these are my friends

To be fair, my friends are dicks. But they’re my dicks. In a non-homo way. Not that there is anything wrong with being gay. Dammit I “microaggression” again.

But seriously? why all this online hostility against Asian Americans. Is it because Asian Americans are viewed as the “model-minority” and we’re suppose to just bend over and take it? Why does no one outside the Asian American race jump to the gun and defend our honor as often as oppose to say an African-American? I want my Social Justice Warrior white knight too! Or in this case Social Justice Samurai! Preferably female and hot like in the movies.

No wonder the Huffington Post reported that Asian Americans are the most bullied.

A friend of mine said the reason why it’s easy to ask such negative questions about Asian Americans is because we are “succeeding” in America. And the reason why this PC America takes more offense to other ethnic misconceptions is because they’re still facing a tough struggle. There could be some truth to that belief, I guess. I didn’t know that Asian Americans won the Minorities War and a seat at the WeMadeIt Table. Yay us! We’re no longer oppressed and now everyone thinks we have big dicks!!!

But we have fallen off track here with my PRO-ASIAN-AMERICAN rant. Let us return to the topic of defining microaggression.

So microaggression is this term that we use in post-racial-politically-correct America to define something (a statement, piece of art, whatever) that does not intend harm but has an underlining oppressive tone . . . yeah, that kind of makes sense. And on the internet, there are a lot of stupid people being racist, sexist, homophobic, and all the other kinds of -ist. But you know what they say: there are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

But wait? If we use the term microaggression to explain something that someone might get butthurt over, then wouldn’t that mean that everything is racist? Like comedy or TV shows? Or your old aunt and uncle who immigrated from a different country who doesn’t know better? Iono, that’s a touchy subject here. But I’ll save this conversation for next time when I explore microaggression even more and question whether there is any validity to the term and debate if everyone’s a racist or if this is just a Social Justice Warrior term that lets everyone know that there is a stick up their ass. Hmm, that last part is kinda of mean.

Till next time, Airec Sype.

 

 


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A Very Asian Christmas: A brief history about Christmas and Asians

By Airec Sype

not trying to break Santas lap

not trying to break Santas lap

As I reminisce about my Christmas vacation, the overpowering memory of me sitting in my parents living room watching my six year old baby brother play Call of Duty on the PS3 underneath the 62’’ TV, as my eleven year old baby sister watched Ugly Betty on the iPad by the decorated artificial Christmas tree with wrapped presents underneath, this makes me wonder . . . where the fuck was my Christmas when I was 10 years old?

Growing up in the Central Valley, a predominantly White Christian Conservative area, the concept of Asian culture was foreign to kids of other ethnic culture in grade school. So a question I was often asked was, “Do Asians celebrate Christmas?”

Yes. Yes Asians do celebrate Christmas, you racist!

LOL, well let me elaborate on that. Yes and no, and well kind of.

For my family, it was after my spawning that my parents decided to embrace and celebrate Christmas. I am the first born, oldest of nine, so I consider myself to be the test subject of their experiment with integrating into American culture. English is my second language (now my primary language), so that meant that Lao/Thai culture came first and American culture and practices came second. And the wonderful commercial holiday that I love was no exception to this rule growing up in a gradually assimilating household.

Before we get into my trail and “failures” of the American Christmas experience, let’s have a little history lesson shall we . . . and this Asian version of Twas The Night Before Christmas.

Christmas is a predominantly Christian/Catholic holiday in America with a splash of American commercialism. So seeing how Christianity isn’t the primary religion in Asia, jolly ole Christmas came later-on when DIFFERENT Asian countries (I want to emphasize this fact, despite the whole “Asians look the same” concept, that there are different kinds of Asians) adopted the holiday after being colonized and subjugated to the oppressors religion or just simply because they were memorized after witnessing the magic of Xmas.

On a side note, Diane Severance, Ph.D, said that “Jesus was Asian” and that “Christianity began in Asia.” So HA! Take that you “White is Right!” fools. Your lord and savior was a math tutoring, kung-fu chopping son of a gun/God. The real reason why we Asians squint is so that we can see Him better through the light . . . Just kidding, but it is quite amusing to picture Jesus protecting himself from blasphemous naysayers and the devil with one karate chop at a time.

According to my understanding, the Philippines were some of the first Asians to enjoy eggnog and Lifetime replays of It’s a Wonderful Life and National Lampoon. Their privilege to enjoy this holiday early was due to “Spanish influences.” Or maybe because the Philippines were conquered early on by the Spaniard who were extremely Catholic. The power of Christ compelled them early!

Then there are Western influenced Asian countries, like Japan, who celebrate Christmas for the commercial purposes (and love I guess, pff), like gift giving and yellow snowball fights. I also know this is true because I’ve seen it in Japanese animes . . . and anime would never lie to a fellow Asian boy.

But some Asian countries, like China, do not recognize Christmas as a holiday. Whether you’re observing Dec. 25th for a commercial or religious holiday in those countries on the naughty list (looking at chu North Korea), then you’re still going to have to go to school as you watch other Asians frolic around in their Santa hats as they attempt with desperation and hope to get a kiss underneath the mistletoe.

You can read more about Christmas traditions in Asia at this Wikipedia page.

However don’t lose hope for little Lao Annie at her orphanage, Christmas is here . . . or I mean there! Why do Western countries and other mainstream Asians get to have all the fun?! It may have taken awhile but a blizzard of candy cane joy has reached the dry villages of Laos and exotic cities of Thailand. Whether this is a result of America’s commercial colonization or a Christmas miracle, it doesn’t matter because now everyone gets a Christmas.

James Zwier, Program Adviser at World Renew Laos, states that despite less than 2% of the population in Laos are Christians, “Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year.” Villagers uses this time to be with family and celebrate the farming year. It maybe a small victory, but it’s still a step forward into a global Christmas utopia!

Umm . . . so thank you European colonization and American media/commercial influences for bringing my fellow brothers and sisters overseas Christmas?

However, my parents were not lucky enough while they were in Asia to stuff stockings as they waited for jolly ole Saint Nick on December 24th; the only thing they stuffed back then were egg-rolls as they waited to go to their itty-bitty child jobs.

But after their migration to America and the start of our gigantic family, my parents got to try out their very own version of Christmas on me, which was interesting since they were (1) foreign to this concept of freedom to express love for another family member and (2) they weren’t Christians.

I am glad that I was my parents guinea pig in their Christmas experiment. When I looked around that night and saw all the things my little siblings now have, I can see how my envious tears, that I shed in grade school when I heard other kids tell their tales of Xmas victory in a form of toys, bikes and sneaky mistletoe kisses, watered the Christmas tree of joy that my siblings now have standing over them today. Compared to my first Christmas, which was with a small poorly decorated tree with some sticky rice and pork and no presents, this was a huge victory for my younger brother and sister.

My families version of a Christmas dinner

My families version of a Christmas dinner

my baby brother opening his presents . . . SURPRISE YOU GET CLOTHES!!!

my baby brother opening his presents . . . SURPRISE YOU GET CLOTHES!!!

Although I still feel like my Christmas interactions with my parents are more of “Why don’t you get a job” and “When are you going to get married” instead of hugs and presents . . . I guess somethings never change.

Stanley, 25, San Fran., a Chinese American, also has a similar experience with Christmas. He believes that Christmas means family traditions and whether to continue with the traditions or transition into something completely culturally new with your own family as the time goes on.

“It’s this kind of freedom that is what makes me proud to be an Asian American,” he said. “Like trying to find whatever makes you and your family happier.”

Now when people ask if I celebrate Christmas, I answer “Yes, an Asian Christmas.” Not to be a smart-ass, but it’s the honest answer since my family’s version of Christmas is different than the ones on Hallmark cards. Also, I tend to celebrate my X-Mas with lots of alcohol with my friends when I’m not strapped down with my family. But I think that’s more of a traditional alcoholics Christmas than an Asian one.

 

-I hope y’all had a very good Christmas and have a great New Year, Sype