“I thought you were racist, but then I found out that you were just ignorant (and yet I don’t think any better of you).”

Okay, so let me just begin with there are a lot of things I want to say and I will do my best not to ramble and bore you with repeating myself. This week, on Monday, I experienced a number of revelations in my classes, AAS (Asian American Studies) media, fiction, and survey literature. In my first class one of the things we discussed was how the consumption of products and media can lead to ego formation (or identity development). We’ve talked about this before, the idea that things sold to us and images shown to us have meaning that is not only said, but implied as well, and sometimes the implied meaning is more prominent. For example let’s look at makeup. Why do women use makeup? How is makeup advertised? Makeup is advertised to us to enhance our beauty, make us look more radiant, and we’re told that makeup can enhance our “natural” features. All of that implies we aren’t beautiful, radiant, and lack natural beauty without the assistant of an artificial product(s). These makeup advertisers are also saying that this artificial beauty will make us feel better about ourselves. Through years of development in the industry of cosmetology, makeup for a great number of women is a necessity, it has become normalized. Some women believe they need it to look beautiful and flawless, because that’s what the “normal” woman aims for, to be beautiful. Another thing I noticed in all three of my classes, is not only do the products I buy and images I see have an effect on my interests and interactions, but it makes me a very subjective person, and unfortunately it comes across in my writing very easily. So let me say explicitly, I am biased. I use my personal experiences to evaluate the concepts I address in this blog, however that does not make my point any less valid. What could make my points invalid are my lack of supporting evidence. However my problem is more so not lack of information, but my compulsion to try to be objective and include multiple points of views to where my reader may lose me. This week I will address a couple of Timothy Delaghetto videos in light of my epiphanies. This blog post covers the topic of how representation of AA’s as well as other minorities is not represented enough to the public and that perpetuates ignorance, but also ways to respond to that ignorance.

The first of which is entitled, “Asians In the LIBRARY?! perspective on UCLA Girl Alexandra Wallace”. People are ignorant. Some people just don’t realize some of the things that come out of their mouth. They (referring to White people as well as some POC excluding Asians) see an Asian person and assume they’re Chinese, related, friends, etc. the list goes on and on. This video is actually from my senior year of high school, it’s a response to a rant by Alexandra Wallace, a White, female, college student at UCLA. She posted a video titled, “ASIANS IN THE LIBRARY” and she basically rambled about how young adult Asians need their whole families to come visit them, cook for them, and do their laundry. This girl received a lot of negative responses. In Tim’s response video he discusses how we need to educate her and other people of color as well. He starts off the video by saying he felt all has been said on this topic, but he felt the need to address it as a member of the Asian American community. He also addresses our (Asian Americans) lack of representation in the media and how the lack of knowledge of Asian Americans is not solely the fault of White people, Black people, Hispanic people, Lithuanian people, or Lebanese people. Tim gives us an example of when he use to work at Footlocker and a Black woman comes up to him regarding his name tag and asks, don’t you have names like Ming and Lee? Like Tim I’ve grappled with how to respond to racist themed questions like this, such as when people refer to my grandmother as Chinese, after I’ve told them our ethnicity countless times. He says he had one of two approaches to take. One response back could’ve been in the same offensive context, “No Sheniquoa”. (I have no idea how one would spell that name, and I’ve met girls with that name.) Or two, he could correct her and educate her and say, no we don’t all have names like that, certain names are tied to certain cultures, not all Asians, are of the same culture, and were American, just Asian Americans. In this video he basically goes on to say who knows where the fault lies. Should we blame White people and other people of color that aren’t Asian for not educating themselves on Asian cultures, should Asian Americans take on the responsibility of educating them, or is it the media’s fault for the lack of portrayals of Asian Americans? I believe the answer is all of the above. The second video I have for you also by Tim and has a similar message. In this next video though, the audience is geared more towards Asian Americans and their frustration with all being lumped together.

In the video entitled, “Racism and Asian Accents” Timothy regards the “I love Chinese Food” song by Alison Gold. He says everybody’s talking about it and they’re mostly offended, everybody and they being Asian people. The question of the video is, is it funny or racist? In Tim opinion it’s funny, a little girl singing about how she loves Chinese food. However he does see how it can be racist, considering the girls singing about Chinese food and there’s a scene in the music video of girls dancing in kimonos which are Japanese not Chinese. So this video begins centered on Asian Americans and how they need to realize other non Asians may not know the difference for the most part between them. They (non Asians) are just ignorant to the facts of Asian geography and culture. Asians can tell the difference between one another he says, we know there are multiple languages, cultural practices and traditions, and ethnicities on the big continent of Asia. However a lot of people are ignorant to that fact. He also makes a point to say how Asians just the same as other races don’t know much about other cultures. He gives an example of how on the west coast there is a large Hispanic population most of them being Mexican however, not all are. Some are El Salvadorian, Guatemalan, etc? and how Hispanics and Latinos find offense over being lumped together just like Asian Americans. Tim also mentions how he feels this video along with other similar videos of White people showing their interest in Asian cultures is misrepresentative of Asians, but it also put Asian Americans in the spotlight. He says it’s a new thing for White people to talk about how much they love Asian food and other “Asian” things, and though some of the representations are stereotypical and suggestively racist it has made us (Asians) visible in a sense. It’s progress. He states how Asians have been quite successful in someways of changing their image in the American public eye. They use to predominantly be servants, how they had been held in internment camps, how they use to work in the fields, and how they migrated in large groups both legally and illegally. He says you don’t hear Asian slavery jokes, you hear black slavery jokes, and you don’t hear Asian jokes about working in the fields and being illegals but you hear those things about Latinos. Tim also goes on to say that just like images of the Asian American have changed despite misrepresentative portrayals, the portrayals are creating a start for more Asian Americans in the media just be recognizing their presence.
With what I’ve learned in class this week in terms of my interests and interactions with people, in reference to my frustration with non Asian people’s ability to grasp the diversity within Asian culture, I understand that some people are just ignorant, and it’s no reason to be made, but more reason to put forth knowledge in one form or another. Someone should speak up, not every has to, but someone has to. Like Tim, I don’t believe the fault solely lies with anyone, but everyone should try to education themselves, others should spread their knowledge, and people in the media industry should broadcast positive (authentic) Asian portrayals as well as other minorities to better inform the population. Positive, authentic, portrayals include culture distinctions, as well as different types of Asian Americans being represented, and also having consumers keep in mind that this is one example of an Asian American and that Asian Americans are versatile just like White Americans, African Americans, Latino Americans, and so on. I realized that because of how easily I get frustrated with stereotypes and people’s ignorance I avoid certain activities, such as styles of dancing, music, and comedic satires. I did that because I didn’t want to perpetuate the problem by liking stereotypical racist things, even though I understand there context and why it’s “funny”. However, like I’ve learned in my media class and well as my literature class intention doesn’t always come across in how we read certain things. A book has a story with many details, a broad topic, and probably many themes, and when writing a paper we must choose one, and most likely everyone will have a different theme or a different approach they take to explaining it. How the person interprets the theme is just based on their mind and experiences.

2 thoughts on ““I thought you were racist, but then I found out that you were just ignorant (and yet I don’t think any better of you).”

  1. I completely agree with you! I am exhausted at the fact that I have to explain “what kind of Asian I am.” But I realized that people are not doing it out of being racist or anything, it is just because they lack knowledge in the Asian Culture. After I realized that, I have decided that I will do my best and try not to be annoyed at them asking me. I believe that a part of us progressing as a society is a big part of learning from each other. I do not think that people intentionally try to be racist, they’re just ignorant and most of the time curious.

    – margaret nguyen

  2. Dope, Timothydelaghetto kicking some straight knowledge out here. I’ve felt it being a dark Asian American, and many people say, “You’re not really Asian.” And two main responses come into my head, “I know what I am!” and “Of course I am not really Asian, I’m Asian American.” These two responses stay hidden inside my head, which lead to so much self questioning and much resentment towards people of all colors (I’ve heard this from Asian Americans as well). Where does that put people, when others feel like they are smarter than you? It definitely leads for a difficult world for people of color to navigate.

    Also, on the make-up spiel I feel like make-up is not the problematic within itself, but it is problematic for people to use it to try to imitate White, and European features. But should we blame the people pulling the trigger or blame the person giving the gun?

    -Prez

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