Write us!

What would you like to see on The Blaaag? Tell us at theblaaag@gmail.com.

I was at the bank today when a woman barged through the doors wailing. Be it that I live in a Chinese bubble, everyone in the bank, the tellers, managers, customers, were all Chinese [American]. The woman had apparently withdrawn 2300 dollars in cash from Chase bank and wanted to transfer it to another bank. She left the vicinity and returned thereafter because the teller at the other bank claimed that the bills in her hands were counterfeit. The woman was frantic and threatening the teller at Chase that she'd call the police. The teller, oblivious to the woman in front of her, continued with her work and pointed her towards the manager. The customers on the line, including myself, were shaken. How can a big brand name bank give out fake bills? The woman approached the bank manager, and was ignored. The manager continued with her phone call and did not move from her seat even after she had hung up, completely ignoring the woman waiting in front of her desk. The woman began to scream, yelling injustices in two Chinese dialects. Go ahead, call the cops, the manager said, not once raising her voice.

I was appalled and stared at the scenario before leaving the bank. I forget sometimes how different things function in Brooklyn, compared to the comfortable Upper West Side (Manhattan) services that I've grown to spoil myself with while away at school. I obviously do not know the whole story, and my portrayal of the events may or may not have been accurate, but it reminds me of how differently we treat one another because of our shared heritage, or lack thereof. In this case, it seems in my neighborhood at least, Asians treat "Americans" much more respectfully than their fellow Asians. In restaurants, banks, bookstores, and all kinds of shops, I've witness the odd tendencies and injustices that Asians commit against one another. The bank manager knew the customer could not speak English, and regardless of her incessant threats that she'll dial 911, we all know the woman would not have been able to communicate her woes to the operator. The manager was right that nothing can be done about the bills. The woman had left the bank and no one knew if she could have swapped the fifties before returning. However, the complete lack of professionalism the manager displayed makes my head drop in agony. Had this woman been an "American," would the manager have acted differently? Had this woman known English, would the manager at least have the decency to glance at the complaint. Why is it that when Asian Americans provide service to fellow Asian(s) [Americans], we observe such a discrepancy? Why do we kiss-ass whites while downplaying others?

I've always hated it when people tell me that Asian Americans lack the unity that is necessary for a movement. I resented it because a part of me knew it was true. Behind the model minority myths, and the stereotypes, we're so torn between those [Asian Americans] who believe that we can rise in American society as we are now, and others who realize that we need the political empowerment to justify our existence as just Americans. While we do boast high percentages of our population in professional careers, (e.g, doctors, lawyers, etc), I feel we are a long way from social progress in that sense. While many professionals acknowledge, embrace, and attributes parts of their success their backgrounds, many do not.

Recently, I've also become quite angry about the 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' casting issue. Many have called us racists for opposing an all white cast when the producers and the director have stated repeatedly that they only picked the best persons for the job. However, they fail to see the real issue. There are so many talented Asian American actors out there, and rarely do we see an opportunity open up for them on the big screen. Most of the scripts written in Hollywood do not call for an Asian lead, but I feel Avatar had that potential. The discussion then becomes an argument over whether the main protagonist of the series was indeed Asian. Many feel because of the ambiguity of anime, the characters can be anything. Well then, my argument still holds. Never can an ethnic minority play a white man's role, so when an ambiguous role comes along, why won't you give the Asian man a chance?

Well in the end, the movie was a flop and I'm quite tired from bickering with people on these forums. Why are we targeting a single movie? Why do we not put more Asian Americans in power in the movie industry to increase our own representation?... But as it turns out, Asian Americans hold a good number of seats in the industry.

Quoting from Hollywood and Asians: Do we really need more Asian Americans In Positions of Power?:
"We're our own worst enemies....We're taught to assimilate, to not make waves, to be followers. Maybe once we're allowed into that exclusive club, we wait to fit in so badly that we don't want to give the impression that we're favoring "our own," sometimes to the point of going in the opposite direction and making an effort to reject our community."

Maybe I'm going too far with this, but it does set up for quite a bit of discussion.


  1. Belle said...

    a) I'm surprised that 911 wouldn't have Chinese interpreters.

    b) Asian Americans, I hear your agitation. For the past few weeks, you and your allies in ethnic correctness have clogged the blogosphere with complaints about the casting in M. Night Shyamalan's live-action movie version of the Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yes, the main villain roles among the rapacious Fire People are played by men of Indian descent (as is Shyamalan). Yes, Aang, the show's Chinese hero, is played by a Caucasian boy named Noah Ringer; and two other pasty white kids, Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone, were chosen to impersonate Aang's main pals, Katara and Sokka. Actually, the actors who voice the Asian roles in the TV series are Caucasian too — but never mind that, because, yes again, it's a shame the film's producers couldn't find suitable Chinese youngsters among the 500 million or so on earth.

    You can relax, bloggers. The dearth of racially appropriate casting in the U.S. simply means that fewer Asians were humiliated by appearing in what is surely the worst botch of a fantasy epic since Ralph Bakshi's animated desecration of The Lord of the Rings back in 1978. The actors who didn't get to be in The Last Airbender are like the passengers who arrived too late to catch the final flight of the Hindenburg.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2000996,00.html#ixzz0svYvVwO8  

  2. WChen said...

    I'm not sure you can so quickly jump to conclusions regarding this bank incident. Can we really conclude that Asian Americans are more rude to each other than non-Asians just from this? Well, I suppose that depends on how you see it. As I see it, yes, it is unfortunate that this woman had counterfeit bills, and yes, it is not very good customer relations for the bank staff to treat her in this manner. But can we really conclude that the bank is treating her like this just because she's Asian? We don't know, because we don't know how the bank would react if someone who was non-Asian (ex: Caucasian) were to have this same incident happen to him. I think it's likely that the bank would treat him the same way; perhaps the problem is just with that bank's customer support in general, and not just some racist undertone. From the point of view of the bank, maybe this is something that couldn't possibly happen, or would take much longer to solve; maybe they didn't want to hold up the line of people waiting for this woman. I'm not saying that these are legitimate reasons for not offering good customer service, I'm merely positing different possible reasons for the scenario you posted.

    Basically, I think that while it's really too bad for the woman in the situation you mentioned, perhaps we should take care before using this as a categorical example for racism against Asians. In a situation as vague as this, to write as if it's such a clearcut situation risks painting the Asian activist community as overly extreme. This is the reason that the more extreme black power movements failed, and it's the reason why people make fun of feminists all the time: because they make extrapolations off sometimes vague situations. I understand what you're trying to say here; I merely advocate for caution--we want our movement to come across as reasoned, moderate, and peaceful, not humorous in our radical and extremist stances.  


Copyright 2006| Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly modified and converted to Blogger Beta by Blogcrowds.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.