A reader writes:
I thought I should share with you a screen capture of your posts. The first post is about dealing with "Racist relatives over the Holidays" followed by "Fa Ra Ra Ra." Now I understand the latter post references the "classic" movie moment in The Christmas Story, but seeing the two posts back to back struck me.
As a biracial Asian-American male that "classic" moment was my first realization of the long heard phrase "laughing AT you not WITH you."
Growing up in suburban Virginia, every Christmas kids (even parents) would reference that moment as if I was part of the joke. The intent to relate to me through what I considered to be a racist cinematic punch line was most offensive. As a young man my response was that I wasn't "fresh off the boat" or Mr Yunioshi (as portrayed by Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's). I celebrated Christmas like most households, but in such exchanges I understood how I was perceived by many.
I've long struggled with Hollywood's insistence to portray Asian-Americans' inability to pronounce the English language as a form of humor. It is at the most base of our instincts to mock someone for being different especially one who is attempting to better your tragic Christmas evening. I know through societal taboos that Asian-Americans are supposed to turn the other cheek on such minuscule offenses, but in these modern times it's increasingly frustrating.
The article you linked to contained a quotation that encapsulates my point. It includes a perception generations of Asian-Americans are attempting to dispel:
“Yes, the only people in the world whom it seems to me the Jews are not afraid of are the Chinese,” Alexander Portnoy tells us. “Because one, the way they speak English makes my father sound like Lord Chesterfield; two, the insides of their heads are just so much fried rice anyway; and three, to them we are not Jews but white and maybe even Anglo Saxon. No wonder they can’t intimidate us. To them we’re just some big-nosed variety of WASP.”
We are not simply fried rice and Fa Ra Ra Ra's.
Agreed. But funny ways of speaking - with "funny" being totally determined by random race, class, society, country, period - are simply funny. Whether parodying upper-class twits, or stammers, or R and L jokes for Asians, or lisps for homos, it's just human to laugh at weird cultural mismatches. I know my reader knows I mean no harm. And I do not mean to offend. But fun is not the same thing as offense. And they will remove the Dish's non-p.c. silly humor quotient from my cold dead hands.
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