As a regular Facebook contributor, I’ve been sharing my mundane, everyday experiences of being an Asian-Australian female.
I noticed a pattern of ‘Yellow Fever (a fetish for Asian women)’, Tinder and everyday racism regularly comes to surface. Using humour has been a tool to gauge what has happened to me and allows me to laugh it off. Some may not appreciate it but there have been many others who would message me privately to share their thoughts, stories and share their amusement.
So, I shouldn’t be caught off guard when people who don’t like these stories would breathing down my neck:
1. GET OVER IT
No, why should I? These experiences are real.
Before I was actively engaged in the topic of race and racism, I was ignorantly blind. I let these little jabs happen and move on, but I knew instinctively that something was odd. It was only much later that many of those odd moments had a name for it, it’s called micro-aggressive racism (AKA everyday racism)
I remember a number of times, when someone would speak slowly and unnecessarily loudly say to me in English and were surprised to find out that I spoke English, in which they would then promptly reply: “Wow, you speak such good English,” like it was genuinely a compliment.
It’s not, especially since I was born here.
Or not understanding why a person would become angry when I said “I live in Melbourne,” after a continued verbal exchange, I realised that they wanted to know my whole cultural background. Knowing where I’m really from is important for them. They don’t realised that such exchange can be alienating, like I don’t have any right to live/belong here.
While it may be minor to others, to have these types of jabs happen to you on a regular basis – becomes tiring. Now that I have a name for these experiences and have become more hyper-aware, it has allowed me to speak out for myself and others. If anything, I tend to store these memories away and use it in my art projects.
The biggest sign of respect is sincere listening.
2. STOP SEEKING THESE TYPES OF ATTENTION
umm hello? i don’t seek them out, they come to me on a rapid and regular basis.
Being on Tinder has made me consciously aware of my own gender and race; guys suffering with Yellow Fever ask such weird request and questions:
“Do you like dragons?”
“Have you ever watched Hentai and get turned on?”
“Would you ever wear a school uniform?”
“You’re Chinese? Awesome, say something exotic.”
Even in real life, you can tell when a guy is an overly excited oriental lover, they tend to speak in bad Asian accents and say to me “Wo Ai Ni” and be somewhat pleased they know my language (by the way, I’m not Chinese)
Should I stop going out and let these types of attention control my life? While it does happen, I thought it may be more entertaining to share these stories with my like-minded friends. There’s something therapeutic releasing these stories out.
3. HOW IS YELLOW FEVER RACIST…
“What’s wrong with being in love with Asians and their culture?” they ask. Nothing, appreciating another culture is to be applauded. It’s different when someone is fetishising you, thinking about it now – I feel icky all over.
When I talk about Yellow Fever, I talk in context to men who ‘fetishise’ me and box me into that meek, submissive and sweet Asian woman. They have one thing right, I am sweet but growing up in a western culture has allowed me to speak my mind and tell them that I don’t appreciate their assumptions or stereotypes. It’s kind of endearing to watch them feel shattered that I won’t cater to their needs.
There have been many people who like to discuss racism with me and say racism is KKK-like or share the Oxford dictionary definition of racism. Unfortunately, both are outdated and don’t fit the modern society of Australia, while we becoming more culturally diverse, there’s also an openness to be casually racist that should be accepted or condoned. Being ignorant is not an excuse, we live in the age of information.
These recorded incidents are only just a few challenges faced by people in diverse communities, which is why I’m working on a new creative project with ‘The Two Chairs’. We’re helping young kids and arming them with the knowledge to help deal with these everyday racism.
If you have been following us on Facebook and wondering what #DERP is about – it’s an acronym for Defining – Everyday – Racism – Project.
The project aims to highlight the gray areas of racism; expose kids to the knowledge of different types of racism and we’re planning to use creativity and social media to share or deal with such issues.
Sharing these stories is a way of releasing stress and by keeping it bottled in, it impacts with their psychological well being.
They say knowledge is power, I believe it too. With that in mind, here’s a way to stop using generic one liners like “Wo Ai Ni” – and approach with genuine sincerity ask them: “Tell me what’s your passion?” who knows you might fall for the lady inside.
I digress, I’m going to continue being vocal about my meaningless little moments, and share more stories of Yellow Fever, everyday racism, failed Tinder moments and bananas. It’s just my ‘thang’.
Tomorrow, Suzanne and The Two Chairs will be releasing the DERP project video and sharing it on YouTube/Facebook channels. Follow us on Facebook.com/TheTwoChairs or Twitter @TheTwoChairs