Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Book Talk #2: Don't Call Me Asian a.k.a. The Asian Stereotype in Books & Other Things.

     The year 2015 marks new beginnings, but some things (like how *cough* gender equality is still *cough* an issue) still remain the same. And one of the things that I would like address is the inexplicable wrongful use of the word "Asian" in way too many books. I am aware that I am not the first person to have brought this up, but this act of generalising the whole population of the continent of Asia IS DRIVING ME CRAZY is so ignorant that I can ignore it no longer.

Exhibit A
These are the pictures that came up when I googled the term "asian girl":


I am side-eyeing the heck out of you right now Google.

Exhibit B
These are the books that came up when I searched for books with Asian characters on Goodreads:

If you do not see any problem with any of these, I ask you to be patient and stick with me. Just stick  with me a little more while I unleash the rainbow explosion that is going to happen right before your eyes. Kindly view more wonderful pictures below:

Gorgeous, aren't they? And believe it or not, these people are ALL ASIANS (yea, including the Asian dude beside the Asian girl. "Which Asian girl?" you ask? NOW YOU SEE THE PROBLEM?)

      I am personally from Asia, but telling you just that would rob you of so much more of the details of my cultural background. I would give you a better (and more interesting) insight, if I were to let you know that I am Chinese Malaysian. Malaysia is just one of the 50 COUNTRIES that are in the continent of Asia. Asia is the biggest continent in the world, so you gotta have to expect to have more than a few countries tucked somewhere in there. And did you know that in Malaysia there are more than 30 ethnic groups, all of which are actual Malaysian citizens? Growing up, I never had the tendency to only think about people with dark hair, yellowish fair skin and almond eyes whenever "Asians" were mentioned. I think of different people with different skin colours and facial features. So you could put me down as confused that all "Asians" were portrayed as these identical people with the aforementioned identical characteristics when browsing Western media. We are just, not!

      Another error that is still being made repeatedly in Western media or modern society is the usage of the "Asian" term on Americans (or other nationalities of other countries) of Asian descent. If you haven't already know this, I have an obligation to inform you that when a person is a Chinese/Korean/Japanese etc that is born and bred in a country outside of Asia, eg. the US, and is a citizen there, said person is NOT ASIAN. He/she is AMERICAN. This rule applies to every other country that is not located in the Asia continent. Why? Because "Asian" is a GEOGRAPHICAL TERM and it should be used as just that. Please do not call yourself an Asian if you are a US citizen born in the US even if your ancestors may have come from Asia, simply because you are not FROM Asia. I just see so many good books making this mistake and it just baffles me that authors that write crazily awesome are unaware or ignorant of these issues.

     So folks, I'm technically Asian, but I don't really want to be called Asian right off the bat, because it is too generalised and does not tell people anything about my identity. Kind of like calling an Ipad Mini with retina display a computer, but we are dealing with real people here. I don't really want my favourite books doing the same thing to its characters as well. I really hope this clears things up and have in some way shed light to this topic. I shall stop here to not risk confusing my dear kindly readers any further. Feel free to ask me any questions (stupid ones, even, because it's a time to learn!) and talk about this if you were intrigued in any way :)


Disclaimer: I do not own any of the images used in this post. There were taken from various sources to help explain the topic better. If you wish for me to credit or take down these picture, feel free to let me know!

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post and you have an excellent point!