We've all read this kind of nonsense before, plus we've all seen this kind of thing before. An Asian woman marries a white guy, has a half Asian child, then goes around China, making her voice really loud, and speaking down to the natives. I used to read this stuff in A Magazine, and now we read it in the NYTimes and Asiance. I've seen it during my travels to Asia. Seriously, if you're in Asia and you hear a female voice start complaining loudly, turn around, and most likely you'll see one of these Toy-Langston/Hong-Kingston types, raising her voice and using her white man's status as a crutch. No one ever mentions the internalized racism behind the though processes of these nouveau orientalists, nor does anyone ever mention how they use the mainstream media to spread their views. Nor does anyone ever mention how much they look down on Asian people.
Here's my favorite quote from the author, Ms. Vivian Toy:
By then, it had become clear why my children were attracting so much attention. They look Chinese, but not exactly. They look Western, but not quite. What they really look like is what they are: a blend of me, a Chinese-American, and my husband, a blond 6-footer of English and Irish descent.
This, to me, basically confirmed that I was reading the words of a real live white-chaser. Why does she mention her blond husband's height? The answer should be obvious--she needs to draw a difference between the short, tiny heathen Chinee' and her tall white husband. If we were reading the words of anyone other than an Asian person, we wouldn't hear mention of the height unless it were relevant to the discussion on a non-racial level (i.e. "my tall husband who loves basketball but married a shrimpy little midget").
It's getting ridiculous. A good number of the younger Asian men I know (including some on this board) are much taller than the average American, yet these Toy Langstonist Kingstonians just love to ignore them. Not that height should make a difference in one's value as a human being--but why is it that people feel free to denigrate Asian people based on physical stereotypes?
Toy's internalized racism comes out a paragraph later:
The gawkers reminded me of my own painful experiences of being different: grade school classmates who would pull their eyes into squints and launch into a mocking sing-song; a college adviser who suggested I switch my major to biology since Chinese are better suited for the sciences; colleagues who have mistaken me for some other Asian-American woman.
Translation: "But I'm not like all those other Asian American women! I'm different! I married a white man!"
I didn’t have the benefit of experts to consult while I was in China, but I felt it was important to tell my children and their cousins, who are also mixed race, to expect more staring and touching. Some Chinese had never seen anyone who was multiracial and they were simply curious, I told them. I suggested that they should stare back and make a silly face at anyone who made them feel uncomfortable — an idea that made them laugh. They tried it a couple of times, too. A few Chinese on the receiving end made their own funny faces in return; a few others turned tail and left us alone.
Well, Ms. Toy, that's a real great way of encouraging multi-racial understanding. It's a real great way to raise your kids. Toy's hypocrisy comes out once again. Despite whatever fancy New York Times words she uses, she's not trying to encourage any kind of understanding whatsoever--she's just trying to get attention for her and her children. I don't know why people like her do this kind of nonsense.
We Asian Americans need to talk about this phenomenon because quite honestly, it's a form of racism that affects us much more than any of the other common topics that come up on common Asian American boards and discussions. It seems so innocuous, but only because anti-Asian racism is so common. Imagine if Toy were a black woman writing about how her multiracial son was a combination of her, a black woman, and a cultured and non-thuggish white man in order to draw a contrast. The Times would be fielding complaints left and right. Yet somehow, it's culturally acceptable to denigrate Asians.
I think Cathy Bao Bean, another militant Kingstonian, demonstrated best the thinking that goes behind these new orientalists. From her own website:
In 1959, when I was a Junior in Teaneck High School, I learned about Hybrid Vigor in Biology class. The idea was that when two different strains of corn were crossed, the result was greater than was normal for either parent type. In 1974, when I was a new mother in the maternity ward, I wondered if the same principle couldn't be deliberately applied to cultures - in our case, the Chinese and American.
• Physically we had the makings for such an experiment. Our newly born son was half Asian, half Caucasian.
• Intellectually, I formulated his prospects from the wealth of his dual heritage, translating his ancestors' stories into a future neither side could have imagined, yet both had anticipated to some degree.
• Practically, I worried just how much difference it would make that he wasn't an ear of corn.”
There's some serious manifest-destiny kind of thinking going on here.
I think we need to complain about this phenomenon, and I think we need to complain loudly. There's no reason for us to continuing taking these "benevolent" racial attacks parading as searches for self-identity.