Monday, August 16, 2004

chinatown, good and bad

so i moved into my new apartment. it's in the middle of chinatown, which is convenient given its central location and that it's so close to school. and i have to admit, it's much much nicer than my last apartment.

however, i discovered one downside of living in chinatown/downtown - people. i can't go to CVS without thinking of who might see me and - god forbid - that i be caught wearing something absolutely horrendous. yeah, something totally trivial, i know, but hey, there has to be a downside to everything.

something not so trivial did happen to me as i was walking to cvs (i call it my second home because i'm there so often). an older, white man, about 50 or so, looked at me and said, "you're one fine chinese woman. why don't you speak American? you're in America after all." there were so many things wrong with his statement. first, i'm not chinese. second, i was not saying a word, hence his assessment of my "American" was totally uncalled for. third, he was in CHINATOWN. i was so shocked by what he said that i just walked on by without saying a word in response. what i should have said is... well, i shouldn't have said anything and beat him to a pulp instead. not that i would ever do that, but that's what he truly deserved.

i don't know whether it's me or because it's boston, but i've had a significant number of events happen to me, none of which were positive, surrounding my race. and it's not because i'm "more aware" of those issues or whatever. either way, it's not a good thing and i really don't know how to deal with it. of course, i can't change the view of all bostonians, but here are some things that i would like to change if i could (all coming from experience):
1. Asian people are not to be referred to as "oriental." oriental refers to rugs,
not people.
2. please do not speak an Asian language because you assume:
a. that the person you're approaching is of that ethnicity
b. that the person you're approaching speaks that language
c. that the person you're approaching is going to be the least bit impressed
d. that the person you're approaching does not speak English
or doesn't speak it well
3. do not make assumptions about other people's language skills based on
the color of their skin (see 2d above)

my tidbits of advice, coming from (unfortunately) many bad experiences. take it as you may.

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