Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There Are Differences, But...

Hi, Family.
Today I would like to touch on a rather sensitive subject. There are so many people out there in the world who can not seem to tell the difference in one Asian nationality from another. These people either assume that all Asians are Chinese or Japanese, or they simply say "Asian" as though it were a dirty word which covered all Eastern peoples and cultures. These small-minded, thoughtless individuals get me so irritated, I can barely stand it. The assumption, on their parts, seems to be "If it's not white, it's not worth the trouble". I would love to grab these people, one at a time, and shake some sense into them, but there's an old saying: "You can't teach them and you can't kill them", which is, sadly, very true. (Not that I, personally, want to kill them; just teach them.)

Some years ago, I was taking some college computer classes with a very nice, lovely Korean/American girl and her sister. This young lady was involved in the college's work-study program as an office assistant. One day a guy student came to the office, where my friend  and I were talking. He asked her about some class he was taking, but she didn't have the information he wanted. He smirked and said: I thought Chinese people were supposed to be smart." My friend stood looking at him for a moment, with hurt and then anger in her eyes. Then she said, very quietly; "I'm not Chinese; I'm Korean." the guy laughed and asked her what was the difference. I had been standing there, listening, with my fists clenched. Before (____) could answer him, I said, "Excuse me, but it makes a great deal of difference to a Korean, being called Chinese or Japanese, or some other Asian nationality. Not that these people have anything against each other, it just isn't fair to label one as being any of the others. They are all different, and unique people in their own way." The guy stared at me, but my friend gave me such a look of gratitude, that I was glad I had spoken up on her behalf. I then proceeded to tell  the guy that it was not fair to assume that all Asian people were Chinese, or Japanese; the way so many people did, instead of realizing there were many Asian cultures. I told him he wouldn't like it if someone assumed he was a Canadian, or some other Caucasian nationality. I also said that I knew (____) was Korean, even though she had never told me that. The guy looked surprised and promptly apologized to my friend.

The sad thing is, this kind of behavior is common all over the Western part of the world; especially here in the United States. I am ashamed of this fact, since I was always taught to be open-minded toward other people, regardless of who they were, or their country of origin. I am glad for this kind of upbringing.  But these thoughtless types are, unfortunately, still my people.

My point is this: why can't people, especially my race, be more sensitive to the feelings of others to the extent of learning something about peoples of other countries, instead of just callously lumping them into a single category? Thank goodness for those individuals, like our American Baesisters, who can do so much more than just distinguish the differences in Asian cultures; we can also see the similarities between these wonderful people and ourselves. That is what this dear Family of ours is all about, after all. This is due, in great part, to the loving influence of our Charming  Prince,  Bae Yong Joon.

On a final note, I am now attending classes with a wonderful Korean exchange student, at our local Junior College. When our first class together had ended, I approached her and asked, "You're Korean, aren't you? She looked surprised, but pleased, and nodded. "Um-hum, how did you know?", she asked. I told her I could tell by the lovely structure of her face, and that my favorite Korean pop singer had the same shape to his face. She thanked me for the compliment, and we became friends from that moment on. In fact, she is now my best friend at the college. She helps me with my Korean language studies, and I help her with her English. As another friend of mine used to say: "It's all good." (RIP, Jeremiah; you are missed.)

 Love to all Family, everywhere. Anna


  1. That's how hubby improved his Korean when we lived in Korea. He traded off with a Korean friend, one hour practicing Korean and one hour practicing English. They traded off being the tutor of the other. He had lots of fun!

    The open-mindedness needs to go both ways. I can't tell you how many times I was told by non-whites that "all you white people look alike".

    Even though I also get a little annoyed that many white Americans can't tell the difference between Asian ethnic groups, most Asians, African-Americans, etc. can't tell the difference between the different Caucasian ethnic groups either. But Caucasians don't complain about it nearly as loudly as others do.

  2. Hi, sister Tamar1973.
    Thank you, dear, for giving some light and shade to my argument. Your comment added a very necessary depth to the concept I was trying to convey.
    It is true that most Caucasians don't complain about other races' prejudices toward them. Whether that is a sign of arrogance or tolerance depends on the individual, I think. The thing is, it's up to us, and others like us, to strive to change the way in which people of other nations see Americans. And to show them that not all Westerners are prejudiced toward them and their beliefs and cultures. But, isn't that what we're already doing, just by being a part of the BYJ Family?

    I also have had my share of prejudice because of my Native American ancestry. The bad thing is, the bigotry came from my own stepbrothers and stepsisters, after my mom and dad were married.

    I am glad your husband had such a friend as I have found in dear, little Ji-Na. Just goes to show, as our Family also does, that people the world over can fit together in friendship and love; just as the pieces of BYJ's quilt fit, worldwide.

    Regards, Anna

  3. Hola Ana, cómo has estado?
    Me da gusto saludarte y saber que visitaste el blog, gracias por tu comentario.
    Oye es verdad que por el amor y admiración hacia BYJ se rompan fronteras en idiomas, culturas e ideologias, creo que no hay razas ni colores, todos somos iguales y a final de cuentas el mundo creo yo es un mismo hogar para todos.
    Cuidate mucho, saludos.
    Con cariño Cecy México.

  4. Hola. hermana Cecy,
    Usted tiene blog muy agradable. Gracias por hacerme para sentir bienvenida allí. También soy feliz que usted visitó mi blog. Usted y yo pensamos igualmente en otra gente y culturas. También, creo que somos la gente toda igual. Me alegro nuestro BYJ comparte estas mismas ideas. Esté bien, mi hermana. Amor, Anna


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