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July 22, 2014


Korean American Woman Turns The Stereotype Table On White Man (VIDEO)


Stereotypes now cut many ways. The video below is great because it has several messages within. Inasmuch as it is bloody funny the message is deep.

A White American man is jogging and comes across an Asian American woman stretching. He makes small talk and is surprised that she does not have a foreign accent. He proceeds to ask her where she is from. She tells him she was born in San Diego and English is spoken there. He begins to talk more slowly and labored asking again “Oh, no, where are you from.” She tells him then that she was born in Orange County but never really lived there. He then says absurdly “I mean before that”. She then asks exasperatedly “Before I was born?”  He then gets to the real question. “Where are your people from?”

She then tells him her great grandmother is from Seoul. At least he knows geography as he acknowledges Korea. What follows is classic. He claims he knew she was either Japanese or Korean. He then goes into stereotypes, Korean antics and the “teriyaki restaurant & I like Kimchi” mode.

Watching one’s reflection sometimes is not that flattering. The woman reverses the table on the man.

She asks him where is he from. He says San Francisco. She then slowly and labored asks “But where are you from?” His answer is he is just American. She then hits him. “You are Native American.” He says “No, regular American”. She stares and then he gets it. He says “Oh well, I guess my parents are from England.” She then explodes into a stereotypical obnoxiously loud British accent mentioning many British colloquialisms and mentioning Jack the Ripper. She then concludes the act with “I think your people’s fish and chips are amazing.” His reply is “You are weird.” Her reply is “Really, I am weird, must be a Korean thing.”

There is so much in the skit. There is the assumption that regular American means white, the false assumption that any nonwhite person is from somewhere else. When she asks if he is Native American she forces him to drop his implicit belief in his supremacy as the real American.

There is the assumption that assimilation of individuals never occur. All Koreans do not like Kimchi just as all English fish and chips.

There is the assumption that speaking louder and slower is necessary for a more satisfactory answer even though he is well aware the initial question was understood. Ultimately, the man thinks she is weird for playing back exactly what he did to her. When she asks “I am weird?” it is with the expectation that he would self-reflect. In his confused look I think he did.

Move To Amend, a multiethnic multicultural coalition of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, conducts several convergences where these types of exercises are conducted. These exercises are essential for several reasons. They vividly illustrate how implicit white supremacy affects assumptions. When extrapolated to the actual workforce, political power, and economic power it is evident why upward mobility for minorities and ‘others’ is difficult. Being a true American has its benefits & privileges. Until all are made to understand that all US citizens are real Americans the nation’s scar remains.



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About Egberto Willies

Egberto Willies is a radio show host, author, blogger, political activist, DailyKOS Featured Writer, Vice President of Coffee Party USA, Executive Committee member of Move to Amend, 2nd Annual CNN iReport Spirit Award Honoree, HuffPost Live Contributor, self-employed software developer, & web designer. Egberto wrote the book ‘As I See It:Class Warfare The Only Resort To Right Wing Doom’ based on his belief that the mainstream media is derelict in its duty to relate what really ails the middle class and the complicity of the Right Wing in its demise. Bio: http://egbertowillies.com/bio/ Linked In: http://linkd.in/TOiHUS. Google

Comments

  1. Buzz Fledderjohn says:

    Give the dude credit — he didn’t mention “Gangham Style.” He also resisted saying right out loud that he thinks Korean women in running gear are super cute, even though that’s why he stopped in the first place.

    • tres tragique says:

      Numbers of credit given: 0

    • His comments were clumsy, but he was clearly not mocking her but rather trying (again, in a clumsy way) to relate to a cute woman. She on the other hand mocked his clumsiness, and implied he was racist, then smugly jogged away. From a larger perspective, this is a commentary on the relationship between men and women generally — men just try, try, try to get laid any way they can, in the face of endless disdain and smug rejection, until they find a woman willing to tolerate their desperate advances. Women enjoy smacking their various potential suitors down for various reasons until they reach the pleasurable plateau of “choosing” the one guy who they can’t seem to find anything wrong with.

      • You missed the point entirely my friend and I think it indicates a willful blindness. Statements like “I am a regular American when he assumes she isn’t even after her country and city of birth is identified is probative.

        • My point was, while he’s clearly a slow thinker, he wasn’t mocking or belittling her. The ironic thing is, he was trying to bridge a divide that didn’t exist (trying to relate to someone he thought was different, when she was exactly like him in terms of nationality). Then, she goes and creates a whole new divide (you’re a stupid racist, and I’m not, seeya, chump). So he was right about there being a divide between them. But that divide was neither her being Korean, nor him being a racist. The true divide between them, he’s a dumb well-meaning chump, and she’s a smug, judgmental bitch.

          • I did not think he is a racist. This was about the assumption of American-ness. The other lesson was about stereotyping. Stereotyping is not inherently racist. It is foolish in many instances. I ask you to put yourself in her shoes with an implication that he is a regular American. When she said she was born in Orange county and from San Diego he still made some assumptions. This about being in melting pot attempting to ensure the flavors all feel integral to the sauce brother. The actress’ part is not that of a bitch but someone who was fed up of being viewed as an other and then turning the page on the person doing that. I thought it was a very good learning experiences not only for white folks but everyone, myself included about stereotypes and perceived insensitivities.

          • Nicely put, Aaron. I hadn’t considered it in that light, but you know, you are quite right.
            What was his intention when he was talking to her? To engage in a dialogue, to be nice and polite in his well meaning (if ultimately boorish) way.
            What was her intention when she was talking to him? To insult and demean, to rub his face in his ignorance and be snarky and rude while doing it.
            I’ve said many times that people should take things as they are MEANT. But if people did that, they’d have far less excuse to be outraged and indignant, and hey, we can’t have that, now can we?

          • I have been concentrating on “regular American” and over concern even after it was evident the young lady is full born American. Think about this. I am a black man with accent so it may not apply to me but it is no different than asking a black man speaking perfect English and born here “but where are you from”. BTW, Asians have been in America for centuries with about the same connection to the Asian continent as blacks to Africa.

            Absent Aaron’s valid point I think the video makes one more empathetic.

          • OK, well points to you for being super-sensitive about racial stereotyping, but completely oblivious to the way women treat men badly/dismissively all the time and frequently think it’s actually a good thing (builds character, right?).

            The underlying motives of the characters is what’s really jumping out at me here. She’s looking to mock/humiliate him by sarcastically reflecting back his ignorance at him. His mistake is that he’s wrong. The thing is, we’re all wrong sometimes. It’s OK to mock a guy into the ground when he’s wrong. He deserves it, right? Nobody blinks.

            Just imagine this were flipped, with a slightly plain young woman as the “white” person and a buff Asian man being approached by the girl. He would look like a total asshole acting the way the woman in this video acted.

          • I won’t argue that point because you would be right. That said, younger generations are overcoming our patriarchal nature. Good conversation brother. Have a good day.

          • I do agree with Egberto, and the original poster that the underlying observation is very true — once people are in the U.S. for a full generation, assuming they retain any culture from their ancestor’s homeland could make you look like an ass.

            It’s always an affirming reminder of our “sameness” as human beings to see someone who has the features of an East Asian (Japanese/Korean/Chinese, etc), but speaks with a deep Southern accent and says “y’all.” That never fails to blow me away!

      • Folks, it is a skit written and designed to make a point. All of the labored psychoanalysis referring to the deep emotions and sociological ramifications of the encounter are coming off slightly absurd given the it is … wait for it … a dramatization written to make a point.

  2. JembeQueen says:

    What I really hate about this ‘American’ thing is when the authorities only describe by race, ‘other’ people. Like white is the common denominator and black, Asian, latino, Native American are the anomalies.

    For example a headline ‘MAN ACCUSED OF MOLESTING 50 CHILDREN’ we all, unfortunately figure it’s a white man because, well, we all know why.

    But this one ‘BLACK MAN ACCUSED OF RAPING 8 SUBURBAN WOMEN’ – how come it has to be ‘black man’ and not just man? We can see from the photo what race he is – there is no need to put that in a headline and many times they don’t put a photo at all when white’s are accused of committing crimes.

  3. Lou Johnson says:

    As a black American, in Germany, I have had ample opportunity to deal with preconcieved notions, coming from many, many directions. Consequently, I thought that I knew everything necessary about the subject. A little anecdote, however, might illustrate how murky the waters can be when prejudging where a person might be “coming from”.

    While skiing in Austria, I shared a drag lift with an elderly gentleman, who about a third of the way up turned to me and said, “May I ask you a question?”
    Suspicious, I cringed, looked over at him and said, “Questions are free. Let’s try one.”
    To that he said, “Where do you come from?”
    “Oh Lord”, I thought, “Here we go again!” What now? I decided not to get trapped into the standard, awkward moments, when people try to clarify their relation to the 3rd Reich, or prove how worldly tolerant they are, at my expense. No, I was intent on holding a safe buffer zone and not getting trapped in those situations, that had become all too familiar. So I said, “Take a guess.”
    His answer practically knocked me out of the lift. It didn’t fit into ANY of the categories that I had been so preoccupied with. He said, “Judging from your accent, my guess would be ohhh….somewhere near Frankfurt, in Germany.”

  4. This is awesome.

    Gender stereotypes are a potentially distracting side note in this video: the fact is, if you look ‘ethnic’ in America, both men AND women will say weird things to you, and if you look white, people of all genders will rarely ask about your ethnic background. Its just the way it is. Her response, while rude because she knew better, was also hysterical bc NOBODY assumes white dudes retain any of their original culture.

    My family’s been in the US for 5 or 6 generations, but people (men and women) always ask where I or my parents were born because I have black hair and tan skin. Sometimes I have turned the question around and asked white-er/blonder people where their family is from (without the mocking tho). And sometimes it turns out they do retain some cultural ties to Germany, Norway, Sweden, or wherever, that no ones ever asks about, and I end up learning a lot more about them.

    But yeah, kudos girl, that was cute.

  5. I’m intrigued by culture and I always ask people with accents where their accents are from. At that point in the conversation I may try to offer my insight into their culture as a conversation piece and a way to relate. I’ve never had anyone say they were offended to my face, but I keep seeing these types of scenerios played out in the media…with the smug non-white and the clueless white…I cant turn on the tv without seeing at least one commercial in an hour with a non white shaking their head at a white person.
    Yes the dude was pretty clueless…but not hateful.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] some overt or implied form of racial discrimination. Just yesterday I blogged the post titled “Korean American Woman Turns The Stereotype Table On White Man (VIDEO)” to illustrate what many take for [...]

  2. [...] Korean American Woman Turns The Stereotype Table On White Man (VIDEO) [...]

  3. [...] Korean American Woman Turns The Stereotype Table On White Man (VIDEO) [...]

  4. [...] Ken Tanaka, author of the video I blogged about in  my post “Korean American Woman Turns The Stereotype Table On White Man (VIDEO)” sent me a note about the new follow-up video he released  with the actors Stella Choe and Scott [...]

  5. […] Being an American citizen means different things to different people. For many nth-generation white Americans, it is a birthright even as they are blinded from the suffering of the natives whose land was taken, the blacks who were enslaved for profit, and the Chinese and indentured servants whose labor was exploited. For the American Natives, one can understand why many feel it is they that are the true Americans and stewards of these lands. For blacks, inasmuch as much of the economy was built on their free labor for centuries, they are made to feel as a notch less. And for most non-white or non-black Americans? They are still asked, “Where are you from?” […]

  6. […] Being an American citizen means different things to different people. For many nth-generation white Americans, it is a birthright even as they are blinded from the suffering of the natives whose land was taken, the blacks who were enslaved for profit, and the Chinese and indentured servants whose labor was exploited. For the American Natives, one can understand why many feel it is they that are the true Americans and stewards of these lands. For blacks, inasmuch as much of the economy was built on their free labor for centuries, they are made to feel as a notch less. And for most non-white or non-black Americans? They are still asked, “Where are you from?” […]

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