WARNING: Slight American helmoi rant begins in 3, 2, 1 . . .
I am privileged to know an African-American police officer who self-identifies as a Christian, who has made it his ministry, if you will, to mentor at-risk youth in my interesting upstate New York city of Rochester. Rochester, which, according to U.S. Census information is the second-most ethnically diverse city in New York state outside the Big Apple itself.
He has done this for 25 years or so, and “kids” of all backgrounds know him so well that, from current grade-schoolers through young parents with grade-schoolers themselves, people flock to him wherever they see him.
I have a friend in her mid-thirties with kids who shrieks like a BTS fan girl whenever he visits the YMCA I attend.
Because of his dedication to what he believes God has called him to do, his wife divorced him about three years ago. She was not willing to support him any longer. Through mutual friends, he met a Korean-born Christian woman a couple of years ago, and they started dating. She is absolutely his biggest fan.
(Kind of sad that, in other parts of the United States, it has been more difficult to get some really positive vibes going for both the police and Koreans, but that’s another thread, perhaps.)
Dominic Choi Makes History As LAPD’s First Asian American Assistant Chief
Jul 28, 2021
Being of the American generation that was directly impacted by the “Korean conflict,” I can certainly understand the dislike of and even hatred of African-Americans by some older Koreans. These men and some women, too, I think, were associated with a conflict that many think could have been avoided if the UN (or somebody) had just had a bit more political guts.
During the Korean conflict, desperate Korean women and lonely American soldiers got together, and when American soldiers finished their tours of duty, not all the American soldiers took a war bride home with them.
Probably about a month ago, I met a man who looked African-American on the bus who is in his fifties and had a remarkable conversation with him.
I said something in passing about an attractive shirt he was wearing. He said his brother had given it to him. When he spoke, I thought, “OK, then he’s African” because he didn’t have an American accent.
I said, “Oh, you have a lovely accent, where were you born,” I almost dropped my teeth because he said, “Vietnam.”
Through a process I didn’t inquire about, when he was seventeen, his American father brought him to the United States and adopted him. When I spoke with him, he was on his way to work at a Chinese restaurant that is very popular with college students.
I was an impressionable high school and college student during the latter years of the Vietnam War; one of my oldest friends in Rochester is ethnic Chinese but grew up in Vietnam. Her parents moved to Vietnam from Guandong Province in the 1940s; her Chinese dialect is Teochew or Chaozhou. I know in detail about her family’s struggles to escape at the end of the Vietnam conflict.
So when this man told me his brief, brief story, because I was in public, I said only, “I’m very glad you were able to come here,” and then when I got home I cried for the rest of the afternoon.
The New York Times
For Afro-Amerasians, Tangled Emotions
By David Gonzalez
Nov. 16, 1992
I absolutely know that there are many “Asianese” folks who are color-blind and culture-blind AND I understand why many “Asianese” folks are not.
AND I also understand, in the context of this thread, why it is so important for there to be careful control of contents of, and participation in, K-dramas. Because duh. They are a cultural export that serves as an educational tool about a culture that was old before the United States or many other countries even existed.
But it gets a little old to hear strangers say, “Oh, you’re . . . [insert ethnic identity]. How do you like ‘our food’?” . . . When I’ve been eating it all my life.
And it gets a little old to hear non-northern European friends ask, “How do you like our food?” when they give me Rubbermaid containers of it. The people who are serving it to me know very well I like it . . . because they served it to me JUST LAST WEEK!
I get that a lot of what I hear is affectionate and sort of social conversation, but there are times when I just want to be allowed to live as a generic, un-labeled human being and enjoy being with other generic, un-labeled human beings.
And be allowed to try my hand at making my version of their “cultural products.”
Ideally, at the moment, I would like to meet and marry a half Korean, half-Cuban, half-Chinese, half-Anglo-Saxon retired chef, astronaut, lawyer, painter, potter, and musician . . . and have him fix me gimbap, kimchi, raymeon, scallion pancakes, and budae jjigae every time I sneezed.
But I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.
And the chef who’s made the YouTube video below is probably not making plans to move to Rochester and become part of the local “K-population.”
My life is so sad . . .