[personal profile] asterroc
I got asked to represent my entire race (yes, the Asian, the Jewish, and the BOTH, all three) for the first time ever at lunch the other day. It was weird.

FYI I've got this unlocked b/c I wanted [tumblr.com profile] summercomfort to be able to read it. FWIW this is the sort of thing I usually put under the very lightest lock. If you're on DW or LJ and want to be able to read these sorts of posts, lmk and I'd be glad to give you access.

So I do lunch in the cafeteria, in the staff lunch room, most days with my workfriends. I bring my lunch, we sit down and talk about everything from our students to our families to philosophy to TV, whatever, like people do. So of course my ethnic/cultural background comes up, it's important to who I am, and it's not like it's something I should hide. On the same day I had three people talk to me about my race. I think the order was as follows.

An adjunct who I don't know very well, I forget his name, I think teaches history or something like? He's probably in his 60's plus or minus a decade or two, white guy, white hair, a really weird huge moustache, no chin hair, carries a soft leather briefcase, so I mean he's already a piece of work. Walks up to me while I'm microwaving my leftovers and before my friends have arrived, and says he couldn't help having overheard about my background, and wants to know if that's common and why it happens. Where by that he clearly means miscegenation between Jews and Asians. And yeah, I've deliberately picked the word "miscegenation" here for all its old-timey racist connotations. Because clearly I'll know all the reasons why every Jew has ever married an Asian, and why every Asian a Jew, and I'll have done a census of all instances as well. (Edit: Though looking back on it now, I'm pretty sure he was really asking "why do so many whites [Jews] marry Asians, since whites are normal and we all know why Asians would want to marry whites".) And I'll of course tell this freakydeaky guy whose name and department I don't even know.

Actual answer: men Jews have relationships with Asian women a lot, and while a lot of it is the similarity of cultures, traditions, values, etc. (which is the part that I told him), a lot of it is also fetishization of the exotic. They call it "Asian fetish" or "yellow fever" for a reason. Yeah, not gonna tell someone I don't really know about that. Or about how I'm just Asian enough that it's been clear that many men in my life have considered me "exotic" and have fetishized me exactly like that, but I'm also just white enough that they can pretend they're not actually doing that.

Then an adjunct who I do know better, like every few days we chat over lunch, comes up and starts telling me about a Chinese wedding she attended with her husband. I actually really liked this conversation, though it was weird on the heels of the previous one. This woman is originally from Eastern Europe (I think Russia?) and still has a thick accent, I forget, she may be a Russian Jew even. She tells me about how much FOOD there is, and keeps asking me if this is normal, describing how the dishes keep coming, how the bride had three dresses (a white Western one for the ceremony, a red and gold Chinese one for the start of the reception, and then a comfortable one for the end of the reception), and the whole time I'm nodding my head along, yes that's exactly normal, yes I have feasts like that for holidays with my family, yes two or three dresses is typical, red right?, red and gold yeah that's pretty traditional. So yeah, she was asking me if the experience was typical or not in Chinese culture, and it was in a sense of learning about other people and other cultures, rather than the more prurient and voyeuristic feeling I got from the first person.

And then, after she was done, weird facial hair guy #2, similar age, also white, turns around from his table next to mine and says, "You know, my wife is Asian." And I'm just like. Um. Good for you? I can print out a gold star if you want, though it'll have to be in black and white otherwise I need to get approval from my Dean for the extra cost of color. I really wanted to direct him to talk to weird facial hair guy #1, but sadly he wasn't in the room at the time. I mean seriously, you want to know why white guys date Asian woman, you ASK A WHITE GUY DATING AN ASIAN WOMAN, not the spawn of such a union.

Jeez. What a lunch.

Originally posted on Dreamwidth. comment count unavailable comments there. Comment here or there.

Date: 2015-10-30 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calzephyr77.livejournal.com

Super awkward!

Date: 2015-10-30 02:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zandperl.livejournal.com
Yeah, I know. I tend to not know what to do to turn around weird situations like these when I'm in the moment, but I'll think about it and come up with a good reaction for next time. Because a next time always happens. :-\

Date: 2015-10-31 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calzephyr77.livejournal.com
There really is no end to the creatively offensive things people will say in any situation :P

Date: 2015-10-30 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eustacia-vye28.livejournal.com
Super awkward. :(

Depending on how comfortable you are being snarky with these academics (I get that way all the time around here, but I'm not an academic) you could tell Creepy White Dude #1 or guys like him that he should do an anthropological study on the matter and get back to you with the results, given that it's not your field of expertise.

Or how about saying "For Greencard purposes, of course!" as a reply and then turn back to the microwave. (This may or may not have figured into my own parents' marriage. At her more cynical moments, my mom says yes, since she was the one with refugee status that could become a naturalized citizen, and my father is the one with the Greencard that never bothered to become a citizen.)

Date: 2015-10-31 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zandperl.livejournal.com
I'm texting with a really good friend about this right now, and she's convinced the root issue is food and education. Like I said, similar cultural values! :)

But interesting about the greencard/citizenship purposes - I like that you've got an interesting refutation of that claim too. Not an issue in our case though, as my father was born in the USA, and my mother got her citizenship in childhood.

Date: 2015-10-31 02:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eustacia-vye28.livejournal.com
French Catholic values are fairly similar to that, too. Tho there was definitely a bigger Vietnamese influence in our household growing up. :)

My brother and I are first generation born in the US. I technically have dual citizenship, but I only claim and use the US one. At this point, I am more or less monolingual, so claiming the other side wouldn't do much for me.

Date: 2015-10-31 12:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zandperl.livejournal.com
My partner T$ has dual citizenship with Ireland, and the main benefit it gets him is easier customs when he travels to Europe, as he can go through the citizen line in both directions.

Date: 2015-10-31 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eustacia-vye28.livejournal.com
Interesting! I should look into that for when I eventually travel. :)

Date: 2015-10-31 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] q10.livejournal.com
eep! that sounds like a lot to deal with, some of it icky.

Date: 2015-10-31 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zandperl.livejournal.com
Yeah, the conversation about the Chinese wedding was delightful in and of itself. On the same day - heck, within the same lunch hour - as the other convos it was just strange.

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asterroc

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