As an Asian American teacher working in a public school with predominantly black and brown students, I’m placed again in a complicated racial hierarchy that doesn’t like to name itself. I am rather anomalous in Harlem, but as a teacher of the African American Civil Rights Movement, I am freakish. Once I referred to myself as a person of color, only to be greeted with an involuntary snort from one of my students.
My birthday always coincides with Pride Week. I came to realize this in my late teens and early 20’s when I started to venture beyond my neighborhood into the melange … Continue reading Don’t Tell Me It’s About Love; Marriage is About Access.
We’re not planning any barbecues. He’s not planning any golf outings. He’s not planning a day at the social club. The only thing in the lineup this Father’s Day is … Continue reading On This Father’s Day, Don’t Remind My Partner How Hard It Is To Be a Mom
Daily Prompt: “Write page 3 of your autobiography.” We call that ground floor one bedroom apartment the “old house.” It was the first home we had made for ourselves upon … Continue reading The Early Years: Clay Street
Every Sunday morning I speak to my parents on their way to their weekly pilgrimage to a Hong Kong-style diner where they and my sisters gather over jook and yau … Continue reading Pix Messages and Broken Chinese: Conversations with my Dad
July 14, 2015: Disclaimer: I’m no expert, but I’m a mom and teacher operating in my spaces situated in history. I’m not here to invalidate anyone truly willing to dialogue … Continue reading 7 Things My Biracial Sons Will Be Asked Because They Look More Asian Than White
My father still recalls the early days when liberation finally reached Rangoon, Burma. He was five years old during the Burma Campaign led by Allied troops from Britain, India, various … Continue reading To the Spoils of Memory: K-Rations, Biscuits and the Young and the Restless
There was weighted disappointment behind each obligatory reply back, accompanied with limp “better luck next time” sentiments. They all knew full well; however, that I had no other aspirations of … Continue reading My Advice To the Daughter I Thought I Was Going to Have
Just to clarify: I love Asian Fusion New York City-type establishments where’s it’s one stop shopping for the all things Asian and probably stir-fried. I’ve been to many an establishment in New York City where I enter the dimly lit foyer to some familiar pop music, sparking new tile glint and the table, black chopsticks rest upon a matching holder. The restaurant is so dark, you can’t see where your soy sauce container is. The waitresses yes the crap out of the diners and then yap away in Mandarin or Fujian to their bosses as they serve you the perfunctory miso soup and edamame.
Whenever you find a restaurant with a #fobby name of any kind, you know it’s owned by Chinese people. These are all over my neighborhood and all over pre-dominantly white neighborhoods: the Asian Fusion Take Out Upgrade owned by my people.
I’ve been to Italian restaurants owned by Chinese people and yes, to me, it seemed passable but not to my Italian American husband/partner/dude guy. So you know the rules. If the said ethnic says a said ethnic restaurant isn’t good; one cries “Inauthentic!”
But when you go to a Japanese restaurant owned by Chinese people, there’s this default belief that by virtue of the cooks being Asiatic, the food would fare better. Okay maybe a little better than that Chinese Parm…I mean Chicken Parm.
What I don’t get is this: why don’t these Chinese people just make really good Chinese food and stop being fake sushi chefs? I’m not arguing that Chinese people can’t be sushi chefs, of course, gastronomy is universal. Rather, there’s a deficit of real rib sticking good Chinese food in non-Chinese markets. What are we afraid of?
I think humanity would really benefit from my people just getting real with others.
Make that Fujianese or Cantonese food, but make sure it’s good. Be proud and charge like the Japanese and Koreans do.
Turn up the lights! Keep the tables sticky and leave the bone on the meat! I want menus scribbled in Chinese and I want the shame to wash over me as I point desperately at it. Humanity!
Alas, make those changes but keep my Bento box lunch special on the menu though: chicken teriyaki and fried shumai. Soup. And a fortune cookie.
Dear Lord, Today Son #1 tried to kick or step on Son #2’s head. When I told him it wasn’t okay to “kick his brother in the head.” He vehemently … Continue reading Dear Lord: Toddlers.