a look back

It’s been a little over three months (wow three whole months) since I started this blog and as the school term comes to an end, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my experience of having this blog.

What have we learned? What has been accomplished? What meaning has been brought to our lives?

We’ve been through a lot together, and *insert strains of nostalgic music*

Sorry I had to get that out of my system.

But really now.

Over these past few months, I’ve learned a little something-something about what it means to have a blog: specifically, what it means to be the author of a blog about Asian Americans.

Remember my second blog post, the one about Techne?

Techne is defined in the dictionary as “the principles or methods employed in making something or attaining an objective.” Teche is also a tool and form of rhetoric, the art of effective writing, with which comes the need to convince readers of my legitimacy through use of Aristotle’s ethos (trust), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic).

Well, I’ve now come to realize how very relevant techne is to how I express myself on this blog, not to mention how other Asian Americans express themselves and their opinions concerning the Asian American community. At the very least, those successful in conveying themselves use techne. People like David So, Wongfu Productions, The Fung Brothers, and Timothy DeLaGhetto all use techne in the context of speech. I realize techne references to writing and that I’m talking mostly about Youtube Channels, and this use, too, is an important fact: I’ve learned that there are multiple ways to carry the discourse of Asian Americans (and their stereotyped problems), and that the visual and spoken word are just as effective as the written.

This is because they all have exigence, each person speaking has an audience to speak to and a reason to carry out their message, all by using ethos, pathos, and logos. Who would trust me if I didn’t have the oh-so obvious cred of being Asian American myself? And who would watch a single one of David So’s videos if he wasn’t talking from personal experience (’cause man his narrative is so authentic and his storytelling hilarious and effective)? Who would bother watching DeLaGhetto’s strange interactions with the camera (sorry but it’s true) unless he made a rational point now and then?

In the end, it’s all about being able to relate, because that’s the best way to get the point across. Otherwise, honestly, we wouldn’t even bother.

But what’s the source, the medium, the very thing through which all of this is even achieved?

(‘Youtube,’ you answer blankly, and granted, that is a totally acceptable response because yes I post a lot from that community.)

New Media. Social media. Mass media. Media media media.

Whatever adjective you decide to slap next to it, the bottom line is that everything we do, talk about, discuss, or publicize, it’s all done through a sort of media. It’s undeniable. There is no argument.

Like I detailed so thoroughly in my earlier post about false geniuses, the world today is so dependent on getting the word out through media, be it blogs, videos, podcasts, or an article. It’s the one thing we look to for information the most nowadays, and hopefully wherever we’re looking, it’s a trustworthy source, determined by the user friendly design of the webpage or fancy edits of a video. Angry Asian Man‘s website is a great example of what a user friendly blog might look like, with it’s familiar Home, About, and Contact tabs.

It’s why I’ve chosen to talk to all of you about Asian American stereotypes and the woes begotten from the resulting misconceptions via a blog. For me, there was no other way to go about setting forth the discourse I wished to engage in.

I’m the kind of person who adores the anonymity and lack of (genuine, meaningful) confrontation in blogging, as well as the ability to construct with words.

(Yes, I am that person.)

I’ve chosen blogging because audience matters, and I’m really much more willing to converse with (or at) people who would rather read articulate and thorough (albeit lengthy and rambly) text. This blog is meant to be read, it’s meant to entertain, so when I’m telling my stories or talking about the Asian American community from my perspective, I want the right people reading.

More and more, the words, “there’s a time and a place” reveal the intent of my blog, and others like it. WordPress is just another place where people’s voices can be heard. In reality, how many times has anyone ever made this horrible, verbal blunder that was said with no ill intent whatsoever, but was horribly insensitive at the same time?

What in the world do you say to that?

You’ll find it harder to correct anyone, especially if you’re someone like me, and especially when you don’t know how to go about it in the first place.

Concerning the Asian American community, I know that generally we’re a soft-spoken group, out there– we make up maybe 5% of America’s population, what are we supposed to do? The struggle between White and Black, Caucasian and African American, has lasted for decades (NAY, CENTURIES), and I realize that perhaps in comparison we’re a recent, minuscule addition to the mix, but we’re still here. At the store, in your classroom, on TV, living our lives and being misrepresented in every way.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. To emphasize why I choose to talk about Asian Americans without exhausting the reason too much, with a sorely underrepresented community such as ours, it gets to the point when laughing off non-PC jokes or outwardly ridiculing people for their lack of understanding becomes tiring. It stops working. It’s not effective.

This isn’t a blog where I hold up the “RACIST” flag every time something slightly offensive happens, though goodness knows we have enough people doing that for us already.

(Though the way I could condition people if I were such a person…)

Like my soon-to-be-published blog will thus illustrate, I’m here to educate. Or, here to say that education is the answer. Not necessarily the be all and end all to racism, but the tentative solution to unintentionally hurtful or awkward statements. The people who matter aren’t going to make the same mistake twice when they’re told explicitly what that mistake was (and its consequences).

And it’s not just information and knowledge that needs to be put out there, like a free candy bowl on Halloween (a clear ‘take what you want and don’t talk to me I’m scared of people’ sign). It’s the delivery that counts, the place, the people, the accessibility.

In blogging, knowing your stuff and then being able to back it up is extremely crucial in any discussion. Ever since my little wiki project, I appreciate so much more the importance of sourcing. You can’t understand or trust everything you learn from just experience, even if it’s what draws people in the first place. What if I were to bring up, say, the culture barrier between different Asian Americans and you have no idea what I’m talking about? Questions will be raised and BS will be called.

Most importantly, if I’ve learned anything this semester, it’s that people have got to care about whatever you’re talking about. Start simple, so that there’s something worth sticking around for, and then build up to the stuff that really matters.

And people will care, because

Thank goodness I’m moving over to Tumblr, where text will be less overwhelming and more spread out. Being in the zone can really tire someone out.

This will probably be one of my last… meaningful posts in a long while, so, as farewell…

Here, have a diving giraffe.

It’s been fun, but seriously… I need to get that Tumblr project done.

Advertisements

“ching chong” means I love you

Who remembers Alexandra Wallace? Back in 2011, that girl from UCLA? Fun memories, right?

Though as a topic a bit outdated, Alexandra Wallace’s “not the most politically correct” (I’m quoting you verbatim, girl) vlog, made viral, managed to infuriate a good many members of the Asian American community to the point of vlogging, in the forms of singing, skits, ranting, and discussion. Videos, vlogs, and blogs dug into the topic at different lengths from the perspective of many different races, but in the Asian American community, these responses managed to instigate and make public a discussion long due: the matter of education and ignorance.

Now, around the time Wallace was relevant, I watched her and these response videos with my brother, cousin, and friends, Asian and white, and I realize now the topic is a bit worn out, and that the consensus of reactions summed up to:

And the reaction wasn’t even so much “oh, this just goes to show that white people are so racist” (even though sadly that is what some people took from the situation). No, what happened after the flurry of videos that said “girl, oh no you didn’t” came videos, people, a community that became suddenly aware of the root of all Asian-American problems and stereotypes: we realized that people just don’t know.

The problem with stereotypes is that they are sometimes true. Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t automatically make it true or false. In most cases, however, as soon as one, just one stereotype is proven true (in, say, one person), then, as a human defense mechanism, we use that stereotype whenever applicable, to protect us, to make it easier to put people into tiny boxes.

Of course, we all know life doesn’t work that way.

As much as I and others complain about Asian stereotypes, it’s hard to completely deny them because, guess what: there’s a group out there that actually fits those stereotypes. That group, ladies and gentlemen, consists of our parents. 

But it’s true. Bad driver? A+ student? Good at math and science? We’re loud, cheap, and we know kung fu? To some extent, all these stereotypes are represented by our parents, the generation before us: most of us Asian-Americans are second-generation. We can’t help that our parents’ actions define Asians; that’s just who people see. Also, the media… oh boy does the media play a role in representing the Asians. (That is to say not at freaking all.)

People are not going to notice an Asian kid, born and raised in San Jose, with a Californian accent, hoodie, and meatball sub in hand, and I’ll tell you that if people do notice that kid, they’re certainly not going to think “well all Asians must be like this.” Nope! They won’t give it a second thought.

But more on this second-generation business. Our generation of Asian-Americans, today, we have a voice, and we finally have a chance to be heard, and Youtube has been probably the most responsible for this. Youtube gives us the chance to say what we know everyone is thinking, and Youtube gives us the chance to clear it all up.

This brings me back to the matter of education and ignorance. Once we figured out the problem, some of us started speaking up, started answering the questions no one wants to ask out loud. David So, a (favorite) Korean Youtube vlogger, goes out of his way to explain Asian Stereotypes in three separate videos.

(But seriously. He cracks me up like no other. Go check him out. Shameless plug.)

All people really need is a little bit of clarification. So, if you find yourself a little bit out of the loop concerning these things, watch any of the videos I’ve linked to so far.

But seriously. Don’t guess, don’t assume, especially out loud… just ask. And for the Asian-Americans, just patiently, patiently explain which is fact and which is fiction.

Also, you’d better remember that conversation because