#SorryAsianParents

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


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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

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#SorryAsianParents: A documentation of my failure and success as an “Asian-American”

I just found this hat and I really love In-N-Out

I just found this hat and I really love In-N-Out

By Airec Sype

I am Asian-American.

What does that mean exactly? Shit, I don’t really know.

I guess if you break AA down to its two root words, my ethnicity is composed of Asian and American. (Also being American can mean a bunch of different things, in this sense I’m talking about mainstream “white-America,” I guess. But I’m not trying to be racist here, or at least not too racist).

So I’m Asian-American. Parents were born in Asia, I was born in America; I have spiky hair and sharp eyes, but I don’t have an Asian accent . . . most of the time, sometimes it just slips out, just the tip (;P). All of these things that compose me are borrowed cultural stereotypes and figures that mix the two worlds into my own.

Even though two different cultures are infused in me, you can say that I am not really Asian or American. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? The bewildering thought of assimilation or cultural segregation is one that many children of “color” (like me) are confronted with every day: Do I strive to become a part of mainstream America (again, what the hell is mainstream America? I know with my short height and yellow skin I’m not “white” but I am still an American) or do I isolate myself from the crazy melting-pot-culture of America and choose to stick with the familiar and become another Asian?

I don’t know.

Not many of us children of mixed heritage know. For we do want to be a part of this modern day America, but we also don’t want to lose touch with our parents’ culture that they have brought with them as they dreamed for a better life for their children. For if I were to lose my Asian heritage, then I would just be a goofy-Asian-looking-white-boy who doesn’t know where he came from besides his fathers balls. Yeah, that’s kind of weird to think of. I already get hateful looks of disdain and disgust when Chinese people, mistaking me for their own, try to speak to me in their language and I respond to them with a blank face and Engurish.

See, even Asians can be racist against other Asians.

But this Asian heritage- what is it really? I can tell you one thing: there is a lot of fucking pressure. It’s not easy growing up with society labeling you the model minority. Just like how American society assumes that most African-Americans are good at sports, or how Jewish people are good at saving money, Asian Americans are also stigmatized and branded with stereotypical pressures that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Am I good at ping pong? No. Am I good at racing rice rockets? No. Am I good at math? Ehh, kinda but that’s not the point. But I’m good at beer pong, I’m good at wrestling (a popular American sport to participate in during high school, and I should probably say I was good since I’m fat and doughy now) and not Judo (an Asian martial arts). I can continue but you get what I mean.

American society isn’t solely to blame for this “Asian” social pressure on us hybrid kids; our own culture has a hand in it as well. (And anyone with an Asian mother knows we fear that hand). We all have heard the stereotypes of strict Asian parents, the tiger moms. Our parents may not necessary want us to be super Asians, but they do pressure us to become doctors or get A’s (because B is for bitch) on our report cards . . . cause if we don’t, we get the fly-swatter. Haha, just kidding . . . actually not really.

With all of these obligations and demands that outside forces put on us, as an individual, to become the perfect model-minority-Asian-American, it’s really easy to disappoint. Not only does this mentality create a competitive atmosphere with other Asian Americans, but it also creates a negative internal dialogue within ourselves. Which is probably why suicide amongst Asian Americans is so high.

I mean, how do I become the perfect Asian if joining a fraternity wasn’t in the plans of becoming a doctor? Is it really that shameful if your child that was spawned into this free world of America decides to become an English major and instead of a doctor or a lawyer or a scientist? Oh no, how will you tell the (Asian) neighbors?? We’re not some trump cards in your mahjong game of who-has-the-more-successful-kid!!!

Actually, I had to lie to my parents about joining a fraternity and told them that it was a club for future teachers. Luckily my parents were from villages with huts and shit so they don’t know what Myspace and Facebook are. Also on a side note, I joined a social fraternity and not an ethnic fraternity. If I wanted to hangout with other Asian people, I could go to Chinatown or join the ASU, I don’t need to pay for that; my money went to fund my adventures with brothers from another ethnic mother and to help me find women who aren’t ASIAN!!!

So as you can see, I have a lot of short-comings to being the perfect model minority. And I’m sure some of you out there (you don’t have to be particularly Asian-American, I know some kids who are failing as Mexican-Americans) also face the same trials and tribulations of modern day second-generation life. If there was a report card for being the ultimate Asian-American and pleasing my Asian parents, I probably would get an F.

But the F doesn’t always have to stand for Failure; it could also stand for Fucking (Awesome).

Now what is this blog? This blog, SorryAsianParents, is going to be a documentation that is composed of my thoughts and feelings, although not all of my thoughts and feelings within this blog are going to be about my journey to becoming the perfect Asian-American. Some of my posts will be of some random shit I thought of while I was sitting on the MUNI or the toilet. A lot of random but funny stuff.

Hopefully they will be humorous for your entertainment and hopefully they will have a slim number of grammatical errors (because everyone knows I speak and write Engurlish).

The name of my blog was birthed during my last year in coolage (I know it’s spelled wrong) while I was bored in class and Instagramming a picture about graduation. See – I wasn’t paying attention in class – bad Asian! I created the hashtag #SorryAsianParents to describe a picture that thanked Red Bull and Wikipedia for the credit of one’s graduation success. I dedicated that picture to my parents because my wit did not help me graduate alone and I needed the help of study aids.

image

*Note: I did not create the picture

Whether it was subconsciously made or just a fluke accident due to my random collective thoughts firing without a filter, I created something hilarious that generated positive reception. I’m just glad not many people were offended.

So here it is, my new writing project that will not only explore the existence of Asian-Americans living and surviving in mainstream America but also exploring the random idiotic thoughts of Airec Syprasert. Enjoy the ride folks because it’s going to be an interesting one. And if I’ve revealed too much about myself or about my family then I might as well say it now, “Sorry Asian Parents.”