Friday, May 09, 2003

Bananas vs. FOBs

The topic of American born Asian (a.k.a., ABA, bananas, johk sing, etc) vs. Asian born Asians who have moved to the US (often referred to as FOBs, imports, ornamentals, etc.), seems to bring a out a lot of passionate argument. Being a third generation Japanese American, I hope gives me some perspective, so... The biggest problem I have is with those who will accuse me of being “whitewashed” or calling me a “sellout” to my culture, heritage, etc. Because we look Asian and don't act the way FOB’s think we should. We don’t speak the language, don’t eat all the foods, don’t observe all the traditions, we just don't think, but mostly act, and behave,(right?), like you do. While this is generally true and it does lead for a bit of an identity crisis for some, it has never truly bothered me, primarily because, well, that’s the way I am, that’s the way I was raised, part American, part Japanese, I am both. I suppose being raised in a city where I am actually NOT a minority, (Honolulu, Hawaii), might have possibly skewed things. I really don’t see myself personally as being marginalized as some people have pointed out. Yes, as part of the greater population of the US, the marginalization of Asians exists and occurs with all too much frequency, assumed to always be immigrants, being portrayed as stereo-types in the general media, but I don’t go looking for examples or cry racism at every turn. OR even say in being *marginalized*, give me a fucking break.
I don’t see the marginalization here because when I look around, I see Asians and Asian culture everywhere. I see two Hawaii Governor’s who were Asian, (Ariyoshi, and Cayetano), I see a State legislature House, Senate, with more non-white surnames that white ones. I see the university name the baseball stadium the Les Murakami Stadium. I can buy dim sum and sushi at the 7-Eleven. I can even get saimin and rice at McDonald’s, my last name will rarely be mispronounced, . With each new generation, we, as Asian Americans, become more Americanized, but Asian traditions will still be a cherished and integral part of our lives, because it’s a source of identity, (I know I’m not white) and I fully realize that it would be a terrible shame to ignore, or worse, turn my back on, my ethnicity. (I try, i can count in japanese, and speak a smattering of rudimentary words and phrases), I was raised to embrace both Japanese and American cultures, but I have to say American was primary. (Scooby Scooby Doo Where Are You). Are there conflicts? Yes, but you deal with them, and make it work. Does that make me whitewashed? Am I so unlike you who I look so much alike? as to be gaijin? you decide, and tell me. Maybe, but you know what? I really don’t give a shit if you think I’ve sold out, because I know that I can accomplish far more than you as an FOB ever will in the good ol US of A, because I don’t put limits what I should or should not do, or what I will or will not do simply because of what my ethnic culture says so. If I want to have an intimate relationship with a black person, I can. If I want to say, run for political office, or even if I want to buy a house, and move in to whatever neighborhood I desire, . Thats the way it is, its neither good, bad, nor an insult if you do call me whitewashed because I really don't get all that worked up about all this shit. Of course that’s not to say that anything goes, you would not, for example see me on Jerry Springer, because I have had the Asian concept of saving face ingrained into me, (as well as going to every funeral of even the most remotely, distant relative that you have never seen since you were two, thanks Mom). But I would have no problem walking into a room filled with white people, and schmoozing with them (I'd much rather be somewhere else tho, even blogging). My point being if you cling too tightly to your ethnicity, and not allow for some Americanization, then it’s your loss, you gotta give to get, and only you know how much you are giving. (one of Myself's rules of life). It’s why you are in the US in the first place, or at the very least part of why your parents came here, so go LIVE YOUR LIFE

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