Friday, October 5, 2007

Blast From The Past

Although I have an AIM screen name, I try not to be on it that much these days. I have enough to do, what, with all these season premieres on TV, the novelty not having quite worn off on the "new" mp3 player I bought a few months ago back in Chicago, this blog, my cultural reading...oh, and school, of course. Plus, the biggy--I've kind of been trying to avoid Nikki.

Well, I signed on today when I woke up. The majority of my list is people I don't talk to and haven't in a long time. One such person is a "woman" (I don't really think, nowadays, "woman" is the correct term for any 20something, just based on how the majority of us seem to act) who used to be my best friend in high school and most of college. Guess her background? That's right--Asian. Korean. Or Korean American, if you're into that (and some other time, I will explain why I am against attaching "American" to our identities, and even why I deplore the labels "African American," "Asian American," and so on). Interestingly enough, I've been thinking about her quite a bit lately. In fact, just last night, I was. And, admittedly, I've been fighting the impulse to send her an e-mail or IM, just out of curiosity.

Well, now I know I don't need to do that. The version of AIM I have lets you know when anyone on your buddy list has updated their profile or journal. No matter who it is, I click to see what those updates are. Turns former best friend has a journal. Total opposite of mine. Reminded me exactly why we stopped being friends.

You could make a TV show out of where I grew up. It's a place where you think you know people but you really don't. Well-off, religious, Republican, seemingly wholesome and intelligent people with a lot of secrets that, once revealed, indicate that these people are not who you thought they were at all. That's one of the things that came between--I'll just call her--Jenny and I. In high school, Jenny seemed like this awkward, insecure nerd. And not because she was Asian, but just because that was how she was, at least on the surface. And then we got to college, and she started telling me more and more things that I never knew about from high school...and started showing more of who she really is.

Long story short--and not to be mean--Jen Jen's a whore and was in high school, too. I mean, she just is. And her journal--wow. It's all about guys and her sexual escapades, to put it very mildly. Every entry is about a different guy.

To be clear, we didn't end our friendship because of her hypersexuality or the fact that she talked about guys all...the...time, although it wasn't as if I wasn't judging her in my mind nor totally sick of hearing about white guys and sex. I ended it because along with the revealing of her true self came judgment of me for being how I was. There was always this "you should do this" and "you need to do that." And it started getting out of hand--everything from how I looked to the career choices I was considering. And so I finally was just like...I told her what was bothering me, which is something girls just don't do--but you know I'm not the typical girl--and then made it clear that our friendship was done. She apologized and said she didn't want our friendship to end. But I stood firm, because I was tired of it. That was the beginning of me not putting up with certain kinds of people, namely, those who think I'm supposed to be a certain way because I'm a woman or because I'm in my 20s.

Jenny, after reading her journal, is probably a typical white 26-year old female. And that was another thing that always irritated me about her, even though back then I was too young and lacked the knowledge to be able to put my finger on that. She's "Korean American," but she's too white. All she liked was white guys. And it seems like that's still the case. Culturally, it seemed like she always wanted to fit in with whites, and it seems that now she does. And she seems very comfortable with that. But after reading some of her entries, I have questions that relate to the issues I've been discussing recently in my blog.

Again, not to be mean. First of all, I've noticed that when someone says they have a preference for a particular race or that when they say something such as "Asians are attractive," people interpret that as if you mean to exclude everyone else or as if you think all Asians are hot/exotic. And if you've been reading my blog lately, you know that I've said I find Asians attractive. Okay--Jenny is not attractive. At all. And no matter how "white" she tries to look, it's just not happening. I've seen plenty of gorgeous Asians, and she just is not one of them. Yet, she attracts the attention of so many white males. And she seems to think this is simply because she's now got it goin' on. Now, I know that physical attraction is an individual thing. But. Let's just say that if Halle Berry weren't a celebrity and was just like you and me and out in public...she wouldn't get anywhere near as much attention from white or black men as Jenny or probably other Asian women do, I don't think. All I'm saying is I'm suspicious, and I wonder if Jenny has sense enough to be, too.

And let's go back to her seemingly exclusive interest in white guys, because it flips the script on what I've been writing about. People wonder more and more nowadays what's up with white guys and Asian women? Well, how about what's up with Asian women and white guys? Because the attraction does actually seem to be mutual. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of Asian women I've known who haven't "preferred" white guys (and to be honest with you, I think those chicks are sketch, too, i.e. I wonder if they are being honest about that. And I would say the same is probably true in Asian queer females). Thinking about that, I wonder if that's some of the reason why I don't hear more outrage from Asian women over how white guys think of/describe them or the fact that there can be an endless stream of white guys approaching them.

And this is not something that got my attention just now with Jenny. At my school, the Asian friend I mentioned in my last post--the one who was asking me questions about being black in the South--always has white guys following her around. And, frankly, it makes me laugh, because the white guys are so obvious about their interest. One time in particular actually made me stop, stare at the scene and laugh out loud--this being after a very depressing final in a law course, too--because immediately after the exam...Karen found herself surrounded by white guys trying to talk to her. Now, this woman, Karen, really is gorgeous. But, um...these same white guys that I see following Karen? I see them following other Asian women around the law school also. Doesn't that just make Karen--or Hari or Kim or any of the others of them--stop and think? Do they even notice? Or maybe they do and are not only fine with it, but embrace it? Last I talked to Karen, she had a boyfriend, whom I'm pretty sure is white. Nothing wrong with liking a white guy, but...

See, I have a test that anybody, regardless of race--but especially those who are non-black--must pass before I seriously consider them dateworthy. It's a racial test. They don't have to know anything like when Dr. King was murdered or the "I Have A Dream" speech by heart. They don't need to have read "Malcolm X." Even if I liked white guys predominantly, imagining myself as an Asian female, he just couldn't be any ole cute white guy who gives me the time of day. He has to be a white guy who isn't stereotyping me and just looking to be with an Asian woman sexually--which I also thought about with Jenny after reading her posts about having "friends with benefits"-type relationships with white males. Psssh!

My test gets at these kinds of things, and I have eliminated many a white guy in the past...usually because they all seemed to have this exclusive thing for mixed or light black females. Mixed or light black females...hmmm. White but not too white, black but not too black. And negative stereotypes abounding about white women, and "real" black women not being all that attractive. Now, I'm racist and all, just like everybody else in the US, but there are certain manifestations of racism that I simply won't put up with. The "you're lighter and, therefore, prettier than other black women" is definitely high on the list. That's a false positive.

And Asians should know all about false positives. I mean, so many of the stereotypes about them are false positives, according to the stuff I've been reading. I'm still not sure I see completely what's wrong with people assuming you're smart, even if you're not--I get that one all the time and I just roll with it--but some of these other "compliments" you just have to learn to see right through, such as the one about Asian women being nicer than white women (and, therefore, nicer than black women, too). This is why I like my Asian chicas out there who kick @ss...literally. See, in men-speak, "nice" means you keep your mouth shut, you don't challenge men, basically do as you're told and what they want. It should instantly be like, "You don't know me, yet you're so sure I'm nice. Interesting." Click-uh.

I was going to write something more--I think I had another story to tell--but I just can't remember. I'll save it for later, perhaps. But, look, I do want to mention that this blog is not shifting away from its larger focus and, no, I'm not developing an obsession with Asians. Since it's harder for me to write now, I figure that when there's an issue on my mind and I have some thoughts about it, it's better to come write about it than leave my blog post-less. Incidentally, I would love to write more about "other" GLBTs of color, but I don't know a lot about them.

This is why I ordered this one book about Asian GLBTs, which I have not had much time to look at yet--but the bit that I have has been a little disappointing. In fact, pretty much all the Asian books I have right now are disappointing--the books I read about Latinos were a lot better in terms of explaining various Latino mentalities when it comes to race in general and race as it affects their existence. With the Asian books, there seems to be a lot of "I got called names" and "I wanted to be just like everyone else" with "everyone else" always meaning "white." Asian stories are pretty much exclusively vis-a-vis white people, just like blacks do a lot of the time--blacks talk about the US in terms of black and white, and Asians seem to talk about it in terms of Asian and white. I guess I get to see what it's like to always be left out of a racial discussion, as if your race just doesn't exist or just really isn't even worthy of a mention,'s really hard to understand Asians or identify with them, much more so than with the Latino stories I've read, because their difficulties don't resonate with me nor do they include me.