Baby Cobra

I’ll be frank, I haven’t used Netflix in a hot minute because I’ve fallen out of infatuation with the entertainment streaming application. Their recent selections haven’t really regained my interest since I was disappointed with the speed of that last Orange Is The New Black season and the borderline annoying popularity of Daredevil. I’m a fucking misoneist, okay?

So randomly I logged into Netflix and my lack of coordination accidentally missed the preview I wanted to view leading me into the hilarious standup by a very fucking pregnant Ali Wong.

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First and foremost, the thing that stuck out to me was 1) she looks like me and 2) her vulgarity reminded me of how I talk to my friends. Okay, not just my friends. I can’t decide if it was the “going home to talk racist shit with your (intraracial) partner” or the pho restaurant punchline I identified more with, but I will say… there was a lot. And even when it went down the pregnancy and childbirth tangents, I definitely cringed and got extremely  nauseous at the thought of something coming out of one of my bottom ends… I still laughed.

Giving birth makes my uterus flinch. I get sweaty and dizzy and I just want to run out of the room. But I finished it because it was damn funny.

It was empowering to see a self-identified Asian American woman embrace her adventures in sexuality and prod at the cons of feminism and the pursuit of gender equality while simultaneously creating a  powerful statement about the double standard of parenthood in comedic entertainment. Her jokes were relatable to many Asian Americans that are never exposed to a comedian of the Far Eastern descent let alone a woman. A part of her appeal is the probable racial stereotypes we’ve been fed that Asian looking women don’t say “fuck” so casually, regale on accidental homeless rendevous, and have relatable thoughts about taking a dump at work.

Props Ali Wong and Netflix!

Language Barriers

This video brought me to tears in a public place because their remorse as Asian Americans is something I have seen affect many of my peers throughout my life. I have been surrounded by first generation-ers and second generation Asian Ams and to be quite frank, there is a significant difference in personality.

I whole-heartedly believe that this can be traced to how significant the household has pressed assimilation on their child. I think first generation children are expected to adopt American cultural customs more so than second generation because their parents have brought them here, sacrificed to make it this far, and want to acclimate to United States society to succeed faster.

Whereas you have the second generation children whose parents were already speaking English when they were growing up because they were born here in the states. A compromise never really spoken about in terms of rising socioeconomic ranks is how little minorities there are when you “move up in the world” so to speak. This creates an almost stronger inclination for parents to really stress the significance of language.

While this video reduced me to blurred vision, I wish I had that kind of cultural influence on my life. As a fourth generation Japanese Mexican American, I definitely blame American society for a lack of language oriented focus in my life. I’m not bitter, but I do definitely feel left out considering I look a certain way and can only speak English. Not to mention the almost prejudice I receive from people because I look Japanese and yet not know a lick.

Don’t even get me started on the whole “You say you’re Mexican, but can you speak Spanish” argument, which I have read via social media sites that it is far more prevalent than my personal experience of just a hapa trying to fit in.

Is it asinine to attribute my lack of language on history? That if my grandparents weren’t put into Internment Camps because they were Japanese, we MIGHT have SOME semblance of language? That my family would’ve pushed Spanish on us a LOT harder had society not looked so down on the language as a language of day laborers and hired help? Was it intergenerational trauma and fear that has led me to live an English-only language minus the required Foreign Language you have to take in order to graduate High School?

Regardless, my Dad did let us know growing up that an interest in cultural practices does phase in and out as generations pass. I mean this in a Nisseis (2nd generation Japanese Americans) took far more interest in preserving their culture compared to Sanseis and underwent a resurgence of interest in my generation, Yonseis. With that said, I don’t know if I really feel so inclined to learn Japanese as much as I do Spanish. That teetering thought is more brought on by pragmatism about foreign languages here in the United States.

Chinese and Spanish are the largest growing immigrant populations in the United States with Filipinos following shortly after making Tagalog the third most popular foreign language in the state of California. My significant other is of Chinese descent and he has even asked me if I would be willing to learn it if we were to get married. I agreed because 1) I love him so its kind of a no brainer, but also 2) because I want my kids to hold onto something that maybe us as Asian Americans cannot provide culturally due to our upbringing here. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t want my kids to learn Spanish because how cute would it be to have little Asian babies fluent in Spanish?! But I digress.

Ultimately, language is so important. The erasure of indigenous languages by colonization and imperialism is a travesty and its almost as if when moving to the United States you’re expected to be English dominant or be prepared to face lots of racial discrimination.

So while I cannot relate to the plight of my fellow yellow brothers and sisters in this video, I do empathize with the feelings associated with failing your family because it seems the least you could’ve done was try. But it’s not our faults and it is definitely something that could always be changed or learned. And who knows, one’s lack of native language could inspire their children to take it up because of that distance.

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rs_600x796-150430104629-cd20z_pviaafh6jApril showers bring May flowers. And what do May flowers bring? Imperialism, disease, I think the list can surely continue.

But most significantly, May ushers in something that could be more celebrated in my superfluous opinion.

And if you don’t know me by now, let me cue you in on some pertinent information – I identify as Asian. A lot of my posts are going to be about Asian things because that’s one of the few aspects in my life that I have some semblance of knowledge and experience on.

With that said, I’d like to wish you all a happy Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM)!! 

What is AAPIHM, why does it exist, and why in the month of May? Those are all reasonable questions that could be answered quickly with a search engine in less than .05 seconds, but I’ll enlighten you.18130_10152587724340402_2029564499_n

AAPIHM like other heritage months observed here in the United States (Black History Month in February, Jewish American Heritage Month is also in the month of May) is the celebration of the diversity that made the country what is it today. There are many contributions by Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history of the United States that often gets overlooked or disregarded, but still played a significant role in the solid foundation of the country we reside in today.

Did you know AAPIHM didn’t even use to be a whole month? It wasn’t until 1992 when President George W. Bush extended the celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from 10 days to the entire 31. According to the official AAPIHM website, May was chosen because it was the first recorded date of an Asian immigrant – a Japanese person on May 7, 1843. What I found a little funnier for all the wrong reasons was their second reason for picking the month of May was because the transcontinental railroad was finished May 10, 1869.

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More of a challenge to my work ethic, but I am planning on posting something every day in celebration of AAPIHM ranging all subjects and varying identities that make up Asian and Pacific Islander. The Asian Pacific Islander culture is so multi-faceted and such a range of beauty that is only romanticized at best here on the Western side of the world. Hope we can learn and share dialogue over the next month!

Sources:

Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Official Site