PBS: Becoming American

And, in a strange departure from the deliberate superficiality that usually graces this site...

I just finished watching "Between Two Worlds," the second in a series of three PBS specials called "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience." I've had rudimentary Asian-American history (through text and lectures), but it really hit me hard to see video footage of people who could be my parents (grandparents, more likely) tell their experiences personally. The Chinese Exclusion Acts weren't repealed until 1943, and it's very existence is shameful for our country (as are numerous other things in our past). I am very happy that I was given life in modern times, and I hope that opportunity levels -- for everyone -- become even across the country sooner, rather than later. Sure, we can pretend that it's like that now, but I still see my parents being treated like idiots because people have assumed that they can't speak English -- and these experiences were in California. Luckily, the only recent sources of racism I've encountered come from travel abroad and from cowards who leave immature messages online, cloaked by the safety of anonynimity. Growing up in a mostly-white community, I was subjected to it quite often, even though a lot of it was unintentional.

I guess I also feel fortunate that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. My second cousin goes to a local school where half of the curriculum is taught in Mandarin. His mother told me a story about a friend of his, who is Caucasian. Both of the kids were over at the friend's house, and the kid's mother over there asked something that involved my cousin being Chinese. The Caucasian kid looked confused, and said to his mother, "He's Chinese-AMERICAN... just like ME!" :)

More about the Bay Area: I still remember the first time I met a Caucasian woman with an "Asian fetish" -- which only happened after I moved up to the Bay Area. And -- Stanford was 25% Asian when I arrived! That was "bizarre," too. Memories of how that felt are also still vivid. But now, I'm used to it. I never even notice it until I leave. But I'm not *so* sensitive about it, if the people around me don't make me feel different. My first girlfriend was Caucasian, and MAN, did we get stares. It took me a long time to get used to it. And frankly, I'm sure that kind of stuff still happens, because even I stare when I see an Asian man with a non-Asian woman.

On a related note, why is it that it is not so strange for Caucasian men to have the so-called "yellow fever?" (although, I prefer using the term, "bamboo fever" -- facetiously, of course :). It seems to be running rampant everywhere in Ivy League schools, from what I (and my sister) have seen ;). Some of my friends are actually extremely hostile towards non-Asians with Asian fetishes, but I don't understand that sort of knee-jerk reaction. But I suppose that it might have something to do with whether the interest is stirred up by geniune infatuation with the specific person or culture (good), or by visions of "exotic" Asian women in old American media (bad).

The special continues with the last of the series, called "No Turning Back, which airs at 9pm tomorrow, March 27th on PBS.

Finally, I would like to plead to the health-gods to drive away this festering fever. I ban thee from my body! (please? *whimper*)