Do You Know Kung-Fu? : Some Misconceptions About Asians
All throughout my life I’ve been stereotyped, albeit, in a positive manner, but stereotyped nonetheless for being Asian. Much of it has to do with given a backhanded compliment, which is a form of subtle racism if you ask me. Heck, in some instances, I was stereotyped by other Asians! One example of this is when meeting some folks for the first time (usually Caucasian Americans) who’ll say something to the effect of, “Oh! Your English is perfect!” In my mind, I’m thinking, It better be. My parents’ taxes paid my teachers’ salaries to make damn sure I spoke proper English…Unlike my parents’ English. For the record, English is my second language, by the way. I came to America at a very young age. Another question I’ll get is, “Do you know Kung-Fu?” or “Do you know Karate?” My answer used to be, “No,” which was the truth, but nowadays and after hearing the same question so many times, my answer now is, “Do you want to find out?” At this point, I’d give the inquirer the squinty-eyed look (not difficult to do) and tighten my jaw muscles. It works every time.
So back to the reason why I wrote this hub: I think that every race could do without being stereotyped, including the Asiatic race. We’re tired of the Bruce Lee and Mister Miyagi impressions, of “Wax on, wax off.” I mean, the shit is getting old! We’re tired of people asking us if we know Shaolin Kung Fu or Karate. I mean, I don’t go around asking white people if they play hockey! So c’mon people, let’s quell this thing once and for all! Let’s get rid of the Asian stereotyping. I’m sure my Lao counterpart, mayhmong would agree. And how is it that we eradicate a stereotype? The answer is through education, my friend, and that’s exactly what I’ve set out to do by sharing this hub with you, mainly based on my own personal experiences. With that said, I’d like to end this introduction with a retro Asian infomercial I remember: “NO MONEY DOWN!!! YOU CALL NOW TO ORDER!!! WELCOME TO MY SEMINAR! AHHHH!!!” GONG!!! So grab your chopsticks and enjoy!
Asians Know Martial Arts
I did take up Kung Fu with my brother once when we were
kids, but after about two weeks he and I were tired of dancing around like a
couple of butterflies with our teacher.
It was very metrosexual for two brothers to be doing so. It was during the time of “Drive-In Theater”
and at the height of Kung-Fu awareness and (what used to be) the World Wrestling
Federation in the mid-1980’s. My brother
walked up to our teacher and said, “Teacher? When
can me and my little brother start beating the crap out of each other?” Our teacher laughed. “No.
You must first learn form (a.k.a. dancing like a butterfly) and then I
will teach you how to harness your Chi.” Well, after that, my brother and I
decided to call it quits and so decided instead to take up Judo after school—the
two of us were just too impatient to learn Kung-Fu. Judo was a lot of fun, as we got to beat
each other up as many times as possible, without kicking or punching mind you. It's not like we're automatically black belts as soon as we hatch.
"I Know Kung-Fu."
Asians Suck at Driving
Speaking of my dad, he drives insanely faster than me and he’s now in his early seventies. I picked up a lot just from watching my dad over the years, including how to maneuver around traffic, but more importantly, how to drive defensively. And what my dad didn’t teach me, my eldest brother taught me the rest (I have two older brothers and sisters by the way and I haven't had an accident since I was sixteen). Speeding is a vice of mine that I’m still trying to rid myself of, but it’s not easy. However, a couple of speeding tickets should cure this particular problem. Keep in mind too that if you think Asians are bad drivers, that the Japanese invented drifting, which is arguably the most difficult thing to do whilst inside of a car!
Asians Are Good at Math
I remember a time at work where a statistical analysis had to be performed for the previous quarter of the perennial year. The stuff was pretty intense. Three of white shirt and tie lackeys were mulling over a similar report and couldn’t make out what the heck they were looking at, as the supervisor was out for the day. All six eyes turned to me while I was minding my own business, as if to say: “Hey! You’re Asian…Figure this thing out!” I gave them once over and shook my head. “Forget it!” I said. “I barely passed my math requirements to graduate from college!” For this reason, I’m a poor representation of a stereotypical Asian. I'm just glad that I enjoyed English and Politics while at school. So, if the math curve at your school or college was a bit screwed or skewed, don’t look at me. I was right there with you sweating bullets at crunch time! My dad stinks at math as well (unlike my mom), so thanks dad for the genes and for saving me from becoming a stereotype.
Let's take a look at some businesses some stereotypical Asians are likely to own:
I find that fruit stands tend to have better deals on produce than huge mega-chain supermarkets. No wonder they're popular.
I still remember my pal Yi from the take-out: "Hello? Number One, may I take odor?"
A pretty important business to have in every crux of every town. My eldest brother ALMOST opened one!
Rayna once asked me,"Do the people at those nail salons talk behind your back?" Honestly? "No. They talk shit right to your face, only not in English."
Asians are Rich
Again, in accordance with my own experiences during my college years when I was practically kidnapped and brought to a strip joint (a.k.a a skin store) by my suite mates on my birthday, the "representatives" there flocked over to me more frequently than usual and inquired if I wanted a lap dance or not. One of my suite mates then asked me,
"Why the hell do all of these girls make a beeline to you?" I smiled.
"I don't know...Maybe because I'm cute?" Laughter was heard.
"Bullshit," another one of my suite mates said. "It's because you're Asian. They think you're loaded."
Mind you, I was in upstate New York, in Plattsburgh and near the Canadian border and most of the clients at said strip joint were college students with disposable incomes. Okay, so maybe my cohorts had a point, but I went there with no money, yet got service with a smile. This misconception can be traced to the fact that in general, Asians are very careful with their money as for the most part Asian immigrants like most immigrants that come to America after having been raised impoverished. And if you think I'm rich, you must be hitting the Sake pretty hard. I make about 14 cents an hour through Google Adsense while writing for HubPages (I figured this out using the abacus you saw above).
Asians Are Really Smart
Okay, so if you know me and have been "following" me at HubPages, you know for a fact that this isn't true! If I was so damn smart, I'd be making a heck of a lot more money than I am (see my 14 cent per hour wage per Google). A few people over the years have asked me if this was indeed factual and I only responded with the fact that like in many cases, it's due to the upbringing of any family that will help or hinder the academic successes of each individual, not just Asian individuals. Typically, Asians are brought up to believe that honor must be bestowed upon the family and that family is king. Each given family has a reputation to protect and excelling in business and academics is crucial to each. The expectations are just that much higher, so with that said, many Asians are "expected" to become successful and so in essence must try harder to overcome any and all obstacles.
Asians Love to Gamble
There might be some truth to this (and sadly, with all stereotypes) but don't make a generalization about it. While driving to and from home, I'll occasionally see the Chinese-owned coach buses that make daily round trips from Chinatown in New York City and Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casino. Gee, I wonder why? The truth is that gambling is indeed a part of many Asians cultures and was and is a part of their upbringing, but a vice no less. And there is a reason why every casino has a separate section for Asian inspired gaming. The smartest Asians know not to gamble, just like with most people, as the house consequently always wins. I wrote a little tidbit on gambling in my Viva Las Vegas Vacation hub, so please have a look.
All Asians Are Buddhists
Although I wish this were the case, this stereotype on Asians just isn't true. There are many Asians out there in the world as China and India make up two-thirds of the world's population. There may be many Asians in the world and many Buddhists in the world, but consequently, there really isn't that many Asian Buddhists. Christianity and Islam is actually the world's largest religions so in other words, the majority of the world's population is monotheistic. In addition to this, Asians are not all pacifists either. Indians are thought to be a peaceful race, yet have nuclear capabilities in defense of their nation. The Bhagavad Gita is also a pro-war Hindu scripture and is by far one of the most popular writings in all the world. By the way, just about every country East of the Mediterranean is in fact Asian, despite what many may think!
Asian/Pacific Islander? Check!
More often than not, many people will ask me where Laos is after I tell them that I'm from Laos. My response? "It's between Vietnam and Thailand." And if they they then go further to ask me where those countries are, I throw up my hands and walk away (which has only happened once). When I saw the episode of King of the Hill where the Hills' next door neighbors move in for the first time, I was absolutely floored. Please watch the clip as it's really funny.
So, in reference to the long running syndicate, "King of the Hill," I'll sometimes say the following:
"Do you know that show, 'King of the Hill?'"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"Their neighbors...I'm from the same country."
Are You Chinese or Japanese?!
Yes, We Do Like Rice, Captain Obvious...
Thanks For Reading...
Well, I hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's my wish that you leave here with a better understanding of the Asian culture and that I dispelled some of the myths an misconceptions behind it. As with all myths and stereotypes, I think that yes, there is some truth that lies within each, but I don't believe that any of us should make any broad generalizations about any and all of them. To do so would be irresponsible on our part.
Thanks as always!
P.S. I also wrote a book review on Dr. Seuss' "The Sneetches" which has a segment on racism as well. Please have a look!
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