“When I learn Chinese, I see myself as Chinese.”

In another thread, I told Snoopy that I would post about people being “more Chinese” or “less Chinese.” We had had this discussion some time ago after ChineseMom was banned from his wife’s site for obviously cultural reasons, and then we had it again years later, possibly in our Cultural Attraction thread, which is closely related to the topic on hand. Snoopy feels that there is no such thing as “more Chinese” or “less Chinese.” He feels that if you’re racially Chinese, that’s it; you’re Chinese. But as I mentioned to him in a follow-up post, Chinese really isn’t just a race; it’s a culture. Yes, an Asian person is racially Asian, but when we say that a person is more Chinese or less Chinese, we’re talking about his culture. Since I’ve been on a language binge, I thought I’d explain this by posting another excellent video by the polyglot Steve Kaufmann. (Apologies in advance if this runs like a stream of consciousness…it’s tax season (among other things), and I’ve been under time constraints.)

At around 1:50 in the video above, Steve talks about emotion and empathy with PEOPLE as the primary motivator and determinant of how well a person can learn a language. He says that when he studies a language, in his mind, he becomes a part of the culture of the people whose language he is studying. He says, “When I learn Chinese, I see myself as Chinese.” He’s obviously not talking about race; he’s talking about culture. As a student of languages, I can relate–when I study Japanese, I become a part of that culture. I bow, I express agreement in culturally appropriate ways, and I see things through a Japanese perspective, even if I’m not Japanese, even if Japanese people don’t want me to be Japanese. That’s the culture we’re talking about when we say “more Chinese” or “less Chinese.” You need to love the culture whose language you’re learning, but in order to really master the language, you have to be one with that culture. You have to join it in your mind. When you join it, you become its defender and proselytizer because it’s a part of you.

Now what does it mean to be Chinese? At the highest level, it means that you can speak and read fluent Chinese. You can read a newspaper, you can discuss politics, and you are well-read in the Chinese classics. It means you live in China or Taiwan. It means you eat Chinese food, remove your shoes before entering the house, respect your elders, and are familiar with traditional Chinese customs and etiquette. It means you know Chinese history. It means you are familiar with Chinese institutions, both new and old. But most of all…and this is the most important aspect of being Chinese–it means you love Chinese people and are intimate with Chinese people. This will likely hurt the feelings of the personal-is-not-political crowd, but most likely it means that you married another Chinese person, because you love the culture in that person and how you interact together with the culture. It means you go on vacations with Chinese people, that you love speaking Chinese, and that you’re comfortable walking into a room and introducing yourself to Chinese people. It means you understand Chinese jokes–in Chinese–and that you’re able to make jokes yourself that Chinese people find funny. It means you understand cultural and linguistic nuances and can express those nuances in your own words. It means you want Chinese culture to thrive and live for another 3,500 years. You’re proud of that culture, and that culture is close to your heart.

Now of course, people fall onto a spectrum of Chineseness. For example, there are people who are technically fluent in Chinese, but they can’t read well or they don’t understand intermediate specialized jargon. Or some people don’t remove their shoes before going into a house. Or some people don’t eat Chinese food. Or some don’t understand Chinese humor. As much as we may want to protect the feelings of these people, it’s undeniable that these people are objectively less Chinese. It doesn’t make them bad people or lesser people, but the Chineseness in their culture, objectively speaking, isn’t as strong. Now if you can’t stand being around Chinese people and hang out mostly with non-Chinese people, then that’s very un-Chinese. You can’t say that you’re culturally Chinese (or Japanese or American) if you don’t hang out with people from that culture. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. You may have cultural affinity for another culture, or you may prefer to love your ancestral culture from a distance. Or you may even hate your ancestral culture. But let’s not pretend–a person who chooses not to associate with people from his ancestral culture is estranged from that culture. You can’t say that he’s “as Chinese” as someone who lives, breathes, and loves the culture with other people from the same culture. It’s the same deal with America. If someone supports interference with our democratic elections, or if someone calls for the destruction of our way of life, or if someone is against free speech, we call that “un-American.” Cultures exist.

Like most cultures, Chinese culture has its faults, and one of our biggest faults is our cultural chauvinism against ourselves. Steve Kaufmann obviously speaks Chinese well, but even if he didn’t, Chinese culture tends to be more welcoming to a White guy who can three words in Chinese than an ethnic Chinese person who speaks Chinese with a slight accent or who has too much experience living in the West. That’s an unfortunate part of our culture. But that’s what it is. If you can’t accept it, then you’re less Chinese for not being able to accept the culturally stupid things that Chinese people do. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.

As I said above, we all fall on a spectrum. I remember long discussions during college with immigrant college students from China who said that when they go back, they don’t feel like they belong. Some people shun them (see the paragraph directly above), and they don’t feel like they fit in with the people. And these are people fully fluent and experienced in the language and culture! These are people who were raised in China, people who are irrefutably much more Chinese than I am. There’s no shame in their being “less” Chinese–in many cases, these immigrants had richer life experiences than those who stayed in China, but there’s no doubt that that culture, specifically Chinese culture, exists.

So that’s my opinion on the matter. Chinese culture is Chinese culture, and Chinese people are Chinese people. There are many aspects of Chinese culture, but the most important aspect is one’s affinity towards the people and ability to fit with the people, which necessarily indicates an affinity towards the language, an affinity to use the language, and an affinity to talk to and make friends with more Chinese people. We need to call it what it is. There’s no shame in choosing your culture or changing your culture, but if we’re going to work harder to understand culture and (maybe in certain instances) preserve culture or explore culture, we have to call it what it is.

100 thoughts on ““When I learn Chinese, I see myself as Chinese.”

  1. BigWOWO, this is admittedly a strong defense of your position. I disagree with it wholeheartedly, but it articulates your perspective well. Respect.

    It actually prompts a question: given all this, how exactly do you believe Chinese people should respond to a cosmopolitan society like that found within the United States? Here, it’s generally not possible for people from race minority backgrounds to exclusively associate with people from their community at all times without extreme cultural isolation.

    Certainly, one cannot engage educational and commercial institutions in the United States without direct encounters with the sort of multiculturalism that, in your estimation, makes someone less Chinese. Certainly, the immigrant Chinese student you found at Cornell experienced this firsthand. Given your framework, these students lost their Chineseness without their consent — all they did was attend university in the States.

    So how does a Chinese person exposed to race and ethnic diversity maintain their Chinese heritage, in your estimation? Can they? If not, how can it be possible to enjoy a personal, self-directed connection with Chinese heritage? It’s an important question because so many moneyed Chinese and Chinese American families send their children to Western universities; it’s not really fair to those children for them to be considered less Chinese than those who sent them away just because they fulfilled their families’ ambitions and attended school elsewhere.

  2. Hey Snoopy,

    Thanks for the kind words. Respect. This response will probably be long.

    So maybe I can open with first talking about my experiences with those students at Cornell from China. So back in the day, I always felt that FOBs looked down on Asian Americans. They always said, “You’re not really Chinese.” The question of “why” was always based on the obvious: you don’t speak Chinese as well as we do, you can’t read jack in Chinese, don’t know s#%t about Chinese history or literature, and you don’t really understand Chinese food the way we do. Plus you’re loud, obnoxious, disrespectful, and hang out with non-Chinese people. Though I was friends with some of these FOBs, there was always that sense of condescension. Other Asian Americans often just avoided them, but because I was interested in the culture and the language, I wanted to become friends with them. That said, we tried, but we didn’t form lasting friendships. They’d make jokes that I thought were ridiculously corny. Their concept of male-female relationships was different. They wanted different things in life. Most of them didn’t find me all that appealing either. It wasn’t a fit for either of us at the time.

    While they shunned Asian Americans for not being “Chinese enough,” they would get the same treatment from people in China or with closer ties to China because they were “different.” To a certain extent, they were different. One Chinese guy–we’ll call him “Jay”–kept a journal/diary in English. When I asked him why, he said that it took too long to write Chinese characters–English was just easier. This is undoubtedly true, but it was probably also true that he had forgotten how to write many of the characters, something that became evident when he helped me with my Chinese homework. Jay also listened to Billy Joel. Despite his clear preference for American music, he was unable to pick out all of the Billy Joel lyrics, and I sometimes had to help him with that.

    It wasn’t until much later that I realized their situation–they really are caught between two worlds. They were shunned by “real” Chinese people for their relative lack of language skills, lack of Chinese social grace, and general awkwardness. They were shunned by Asian Americans for being too fobby. They were caught between languages, neither of which was perfect. Their feeling was that Asian Americans, with their perfect English and (relative) standing in American culture, thought they were better than FOBs. And in fact, they had lots of evidence indicating that this was the case: Asian Americans dominated the Asian social scene. They ran the Chinese Student Association. They wrote in the student newspapers. Asian Americans (in general) dressed better. And while succeeding in these areas, Asian Americans generally didn’t hang out with FOBs. Even though Asian Americans are perpetual foreigners, it appeared that Asian Americans at least had a home here, compared with people who left China in middle or high school. The only thing the FOBs really had going for them was that they were culturally closer to the Motherland and that they spoke better Chinese, but even then, they weren’t culturally that close. When they brought their language skills and familiarity with culture here, what kind of currency did their advantages hold in the U.S.? Answer: not much.

    This kind of theme was evident in almost all of the immigrant students I knew (and I knew a LOT). One woman from the Middle East had the same issues–shunned by both sides. Another dude from the Middle East was starting to question his religion. I can only conclude that this sense of displacement is universal.

    Even now, I see it. I recently learned of one dude who moved from Japan to the U.S. for high school. His English is accented but fluent, and his Japanese is technically fluent, but when he speaks Japanese, he’s unable to use keigo, the polite language. As a result, despite having a prestigious job in the U.S., and despite being fluent in English, he’s shunned in Japan as being a bit of a moron for not knowing how to properly address his elders and superiors. Because Japanese culture emphasizes propriety and order, this is a big problem. He simply doesn’t have the knowledge–or more precisely, fluency with the culture/language–that is expected in Japanese culture. To say that keigo is trivial–that would be inaccurate. The reason why Japanese all know how to show respect (though even natives sometimes stumble) is because it’s an integral part of the culture. Calling him “less Japanese” than people who live in Japan would be accurate. And in fact, he applied and received citizenship in the U.S., so aside from visits, he ain’t never goin’ back. He’s just not Japanese enough.

    As someone who is ethnically Chinese but who has never lived in China, am I less Chinese than Jay, the guy who moved at the beginning of high school? How could I not be? He can read a Chinese newspaper. He can go chat on Weibo. He can identify all the Chinese dishes at a high-end Chinese restaurant. He lived his first fifteen years in China. He saw the upheaval and changes firsthand. On the other hand, is Jay less Chinese than a Chinese guy in China? How could he not be? He writes his diary in English. He can’t remember how to write certain characters. He prefers American music. He chooses to be here, despite having the accolades that would easily enable him to go back.

    But here’s the thing–people like me, Jenn, aardvark, etc….we’re more American than ALL these people. We can hear Billy Joel and understand every single word. We can speak unaccented English. Even here you can see the cultural advantages–we can converse with non-Asian American people and never unintentionally offend people because we know the history of Black and White and Latino Americans in this country. We’re familiar with the subtleties of the English language, and we can soften or increase the impact of our words because we know the language as well as anyone. It’s probably the same thing with you when we compare an educated African American man with an African African man. African Africans know more about Africa, but you know more about Americans. Plus, you know the language better.

    So yes, people like us WILL be less Chinese, but we’ll be MORE of something else, in this case, American. If we want to be more Chinese, the solution is obvious: move to China. Learn Chinese. Act more Chinese. But staying here doesn’t make you less of a person, even if it means you’re less Chinese. The answer, I think, is to let go and give respect. Respect people like Jay for the impressive journey they completed. Respect their courage and power. Respect their intelligence. Respect the guy in China for understanding China in a way that we never will. Respect the fact that HE (not we) is the one of the people continuing the culture for hopefully another 3,500 years. Respect the fact that his history is long and continuous. But also respect yourself. You’ve got the power to create something new, and in fact, you are a continuation of what your grandfather and recent ancestors have already created on this continent.

  3. I don’t take issue with the idea that some people prove more adept with particular cultural subtleties than others. My problem involves the difficulty presented when people find themselves considered less culturally fluent by other members of their communities as a direct result of fulfilling their families’ ambitions.

    A useful example is discussed in the documentary Street Fight about Cory Booker’s campaigns for mayor of Newark, N.J. in the early 2000’s. Booker ran against a post-Civil Rights Movement paragon, the incumbent Sharpe James, a figure who was quite beloved in the Black community.

    Both James and Booker are Black men, but James cultivated and maintained a street-level authenticity, even though his policies has not improved the lives of inner-city Blacks in years. Meanwhile, the cosmopolitan Booker, a lighter-skinned, blue-eyed Black man, was routinely attacked by James’ campaign as an sellout interloper, as a figure too dependent on outside financial interests (read: White people) to support the Black community.

    In the film, one of Booker’s supporters questions this framing, arguing that Black parents send their children to the best schools in order to improve their lives, but also the community as a whole. She laments the injustice of James’ campaign attacks, noting the normative failure in treating these children like cultural pariahs once they gain the worldly educations they were sent out to acquire.

    Much of my problem with your position on this stems from this problem. There are Black people, mainly defined as the descendants of enslaved Africans and their owners in the Americas, who consider those who enter predominately White institutions of higher learning (PWI’s) less Black than those who shun higher education or attend historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU’s). Booker, a product of Stanford and Oxford, certainly faced this critique, as have I.

    Your argument as I understand it is that these critiques have some merit, even though those who appear less Chinese or less Black have gained other cultural knowledge they may enjoy. But this other cultural knowledge doesn’t protect them from the political concerns raised when members of their communities suggest that they lack the authority to lead movements or achieve higher office with the community’s support, as Asian American feminists or politicians like Cory Booker have been told in their careers.

    So, again, how exactly do you believe Chinese people should respond to a cosmopolitan society like that found within the United States? Because the idea that the Chinese Americans should step aside politically (argued in that recent Huffington Post article) because the recent Chinese immigrants do not consider them Chinese enough is as unworkable as the Uncle Tom charge faced by Black politicians like Cory Booker, the current junior senator from New Jersey.

    If it’s not possible to be authentically Chinese and gain other cultural knowledge, who could be considered authentic Chinese has no room to grow and adapt to the modern world. Given your stance here, I’m eager to read your thoughts on this.

  4. Snoopy,

    So how does a Chinese person exposed to race and ethnic diversity maintain their Chinese heritage, in your estimation? Can they? If not, how can it be possible to enjoy a personal, self-directed connection with Chinese heritage? It’s an important question because so many moneyed Chinese and Chinese American families send their children to Western universities; it’s not really fair to those children for them to be considered less Chinese than those who sent them away just because they fulfilled their families’ ambitions and attended school elsewhere.

    This is your typical victim hood reasoning. You need to ask some deeper questions first: What is Chinese heritage, what is the meaning of culture?

    Chinese language is one of the most important part of Chinese heritage. Most American born Chinese and those who immigrate to the west at young age, like your wife, have never learned to speak or read Chinese well enough. So they have never gained this heritage. Of course they are less Chinese. If people like your wife really want this heritage, she can make an effort to learn Chinese. If she doesn’t, Who can she blame and what is unfair about?

    Beliefs and values are also the important part of Chinese heritage. Does your wife want to keep Chinese beliefs or values? If she does, she can learn that and make those part of herself, but does she? Again, who can she blame and what is unfair about? Even I myself changed a lot since I came to this country, became less Chinese and more American. This is the choice I made, no one to blame for.

    You are a self-claimed progressive, right? What does progressive mean to you? Today’s Americans are more progressive than thirty or fifty years ago, which means most of today’s Americans would be less Americans if they were in 1967. They have lost part of American heritage. Are they victims?

  5. ChineseMom,

    Agreed! It’s the way it is. We all have choices, and we all make choices. As is often the case, if you choose one pursuit, it often means you give up another. If you give up a goal, it often means that you can achieve another. There’s nothing unfair about it; in fact, it’s just the way life works.

    One thing I would also add though is that cultures evolve. So what was American in 1967 is mostly gone, destroyed by various forces such as technology, globalism, and the tanking of certain industries. My grandmother left China sometime during the 1940’s; I doubt she’d recognize any of it today because China too has evolved.

  6. Snoopy,

    You raise an interesting point.

    So before going into the politics, I think we need to recognize that there are two issues here: pure-cultural, and cultural-political. We need to first establish that the pure-cultural exists. Why? Because the former doesn’t have anything to do with POWER. The latter has everything to do with power.

    Pure-cultural

    Using the Chinese example, a cultured Chinese person could hear a Chinese opera and recognize it. I can’t. I wasn’t exposed to that growing up. I could have chosen to go to China to learn about it (or study it in school), but I chose to spend my time and money doing other things. I don’t know the pure-cultural world because culturally, I’m “less Chinese” than someone raised in that tradition. Unless I had that education, it would be ridiculous for me to lecture, for example, ChineseMom on the history of the Ming Dynasty or Lu Xun or what’s been written in the Chinese press.

    In the pure-cultural world, when we are confronted with someone with greater pure-cultural knowledge, what is the intelligent thing to do? Well, if there’s no power involved, I’d say that the intelligent thing to do is to learn. Example:

    Chinese person: You don’t speak Chinese?
    Chinese American: I speak some, but not as well as you. Let’s practice.

    It goes beyond that, of course. You need to be genuinely interested in the other person’s knowledge, otherwise you’re faking it. But if you’re not faking it, you can do as Steve Kaufmann says above and become Chinese, Japanese, or whatever. It’s a great way to make friends and learn something in the process.

    The point is that there is REAL knowledge in language, history, music, and art. There is no reason NOT to share that knowledge or seek that knowledge. It’s there for the taking, and there’s no harm in lowering yourself and becoming a student in order to allow someone to teach you.

    Similarly, it goes the other way. As you may recall, ChineseMom came here for the EDUCATION of her kids. She came here for the knowledge. When there’s free knowledge available, ALL people are best off learning from those who know more than they do.

    Cultural-political

    Cultural-political can be dicier because it’s about power. Saying the wrong thing or assuming the wrong posture could make a difference between having and not having a voice. I think that’s why you’re hesitant to embrace the model, and yeah, you’ve probably realized that cultural-political is not as easy to deal with as pure-cultural.

    As a parallel example, I remember reading a few years back about a politician who was running to represent a Hispanic district. He didn’t speak Spanish very well, and one of his campaign promises was that he was going to study Spanish really really hard so that he would be able to understand his constituents! He was known as being the more capable and more intelligent of the two candidates, but his Spanish was poor. For voters, it was a choice between “the incompetent guy who speaks Spanish and understands us” or “the competent guy who doesn’t.” I don’t think I followed the story long enough to see whether he won or lost.

    It’s not an easy issue. As you know, Corey Booker comes from a rich family, but he also spent ample time volunteering and providing legal aid to poor people. He did Big Brother/Big Sister. If James said that Booker wasn’t “one of them,” he’s right–Booker didn’t grow up in poverty and was never forced against the fence like lots of Black people in the community where they were running against each other. He didn’t experience first-hand being young and powerless in the inner cities. In a sense, he’s not a child of the area he’s representing. That’s just fact.

    But that shouldn’t negate the positives that Booker brought to the table: a good education, an ability to talk to White people, an understanding of how the world works outside of Newark, etc. He wasn’t just sitting at the Yale country club; he was studying with some great legal minds. He knew what wealth looks like, and he had ideas about bringing some of it to Newark (even though lots of those ideas failed).

    My opinion is that it’s IMPOSSIBLE for someone like Booker to argue that he came from the same place as the people in Newark. No one–rightfully–would buy it. He’s a rich dude who went to Stanford and Yale. He can’t claim that “authenticity” because to do so would be inauthentic. Politicians run into this all the time. Remember John Kerry windsurfing? Especially in this day and age, politicians are best off claiming to be what they are. As much as I can’t stand Trump, at least he didn’t claim to be poor. His argument was, “I hear you, and I can help you.” (even though Trump never did shit for anyone but himself.) Booker, despite not coming from a poor background, spent ample time in the trenches, trying to help poor people. He’s best when he sells this, rather than trying to make the cultural argument that he’s actually really one of them because he’s Black. He IS Black, of course, but he’s not from their area.

    I remember that Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire episode where Carlton and Will are trying to get into a Black Frat. I just looked it up (I remembered the quote, “He meant Barry White, y’all!”). Carlton telling off that dude is one of the best scenes in TV history:

    See Carlton’s speech at 2:00.

    This is really the most commonsense approach–just avoid the authenticity question altogether. After all, it’s not always about where you come from; it’s where you are AT. And maybe that’s the direction things could be heading in the future–not just for Chinese, but for Black people as well.

  7. ChineseMom and Snoopy:

    One more thing I would add is that people in general will be accepting of those “outsiders” who make an effort. Steve says that it doesn’t matter if they accept him or not, but even in closed societies, people react favorably to those who make an effort to cross cultural boundaries. Will Chinese people accept a Chinese American who speaks with an accent? In some cases, yes. In some cases, no. But in almost all cases, it helps when the Chinese American person makes an effort. Again, it’s not where you come from; it’s where you ARE right now.

  8. bigWOWO,

    Will Chinese people accept a Chinese American who speaks with an accent?

    Absolutely yes. And Chinese people always react very favorably to foreigners “who make an effort to cross cultural boundaries“.

  9. This is nice change-up Bigwowo.

    I do agree that speaking a common language is very important for cultural identification. The few times that I have spoken Toishan to strangers (mostly to hair-cutters), we hit it right off immediately. It was like BOOM. I’ve never had this same level of connection (so quickly) speaking English to Cantonese FOBs. I don’t speak a lick of Mandarin and perhaps that is why I feel much less cultural identification with Mandarin speakers as with Toishan or even Cantonese speakers.

    It wasn’t until much later that I realized their situation–they really are caught between two worlds. They were shunned by “real” Chinese people for their relative lack of language skills, lack of Chinese social grace, and general awkwardness.

    I have a somewhat different take on this one. To me, being well-spoken, well-read, gifted with social grace and having a solid understanding of Chinese history and art is more of class thing after a certain point. There are lots of Chinese from poor rural areas that would be somewhat lacking when measured by the above. Should they really be considered less Chinese?
    If you were to compare “Frasier Crane” to “Al Bundy”, in a western context, Fraiser would be considered “more cultured” but would he be considered more American than Al?
    Bigwowo, Chinesemom, Snoopy — you guys are really making this interesting!

  10. ChineseMom,

    I think that in general, the reaction is positive. With Chinese, it’s ALWAYS the case that people react positively when White people or Black people speak it, but it’s only USUALLY the case when overseas Chinese people speak it. Some Chinese people look down on other Chinese people for not speaking perfectly. I think the reason is that we’re supposed to be non-foreigners, even though we’re foreigners. There’s often an expectation that people of Chinese descent SHOULD speak Chinese, and that if they don’t, they’re somehow inferior. Even though I thought Jenn’s attacks on you, ChineseMom, were uncalled-for, I can see why a Chinese American/Canadian might be touchy about the language issue. We get a lot of crap from people. You saw what happened to Gary Locke–that happens to ALL of us. No White American ambassador would have ever been subjected to that.

    I’ve found that it usually takes some finesse when dealing with this issue. Yes, in most cases the reaction is more positive than not. But it’s not simple. Plus, there are often misunderstandings on both sides. 🙁

    mmjames/ChineseMom:

    I think the reason people react favorably is for two reasons. First is the one that mmjames mentions: the connection. If a person has spoken a certain language all his or her life, he/she makes sense of the world in that language. He/she is used to greeting other people in his/her language, and to hear and converse in that language is to hear and converse in a familiar medium. Languages also aren’t just about words. It’s a whole different cultural outlook on how to see the world.

    The second reason is humility. English is the current lingua franca, and most people in the U.S. expect other people to speak English. Native speakers of non-English languages are usually flattered when other people attempt to speak their languages. One thing I always hear from Japanese people with respect to Japanese is, “Why Japanese? There’s only one country in the world where it’s spoken.” I was watching the LangFocus YouTube channel, and the guy was told the same thing: “Why Hebrew? You’re not Jewish, and there’s only one place in the world where it’s spoken.” People are generally surprised and happy that you are investing the time to speak THEIR language. I think that’s one reason why the Chinese like Trump–his granddaughters speak Chinese (they also like that he folds over and bends backward when Xi says something). It’s why the Chinese go crazy over Zuckerberg.

    mmjames:

    To me, being well-spoken, well-read, gifted with social grace and having a solid understanding of Chinese history and art is more of class thing after a certain point. There are lots of Chinese from poor rural areas that would be somewhat lacking when measured by the above. Should they really be considered less Chinese?
    If you were to compare “Frasier Crane” to “Al Bundy”, in a western context, Fraiser would be considered “more cultured” but would he be considered more American than Al?

    I think it probably goes back to the fact that even though Frazier and Al have different levels of education, they both fit an American context. It’s like the coal miners in coal country; they can’t quote the Iliad or bell hooks (who has got some cultural sway), but they have their own uniquely American mannerisms and lifestyles, much the same way city-folk wouldn’t know how to mine coal. There are areas of America where Al Bundy would find more acceptance than Frazier Crane–look at how large populations of Americans laughed at John Kerry. But that’s not the case for these immigrants who came to America for an education–there’s nowhere in China where people share those mannerisms, lifestyle, or historical identity.

    Now if you’re a Chinese person who went to a Chinese university, I’m assuming that there are expectations that other Chinese have. A college-educated person is supposed to speak a certain way, be familiar with certain ideas, and have a certain amount of knowledge based in the Chinese version of a canon. You wouldn’t be considered less Chinese for not knowing this, but IF you went to college and didn’t learn this, you’d probably be considered perhaps less intelligent or knowledgeable. I’m assuming that it’s similar to how we live. If, for example, I met an older college-educated American who believed in solving problems with his fists, I wouldn’t consider him less American, but I’d surmise that something went very wrong in his life. I’d also assume him to be an extreme outlier.

  11. ChineseMom,

    You have no right to stand in judgment of anyone’s heritage. You have no concept of the language fluency of people with whom you’ve never spoken. You again write as if basic standards of accuracy do not affect you.

    No wonder support for Trump ballooned among your demographic.

    For future reference, this conversation is not about any one person directly. It’s about the possibility that people, through no fault of their own, can lose ethnic heritage or be fairly and reasonably considered by others to have lost connection to ethnic heritage.

    It’s important because BigWOWO staked out a position on individual connection to ethnic heritage that allows, in my estimation, for Chinese and Chinese American students to be considered “less Chinese” by their families and friends simply because they attend selective American colleges and universities, a clear goal of most of these families.

    This is a very different case than someone who chooses to come to America and chooses to become “less Chinese and more American”. These students, as children, face immense pressure from their families and communities to study in America; they often neither consent to collegiate study in a different country nor do they consent to losing ethnic heritage. There are many other ways to consider individual connectivity to ethnic heritage, and I have further questions about BigWOWO’s position on the subject.

    Leave personal attacks out of this conversation.

    BigWOWO,

    Re: Cory Booker

    Sharpe James didn’t argue that Cory Booker failed to come from the same place as many of the residents of inner-city Newark. James argued that Booker was either not Black or not Black enough to deserve support from Newark voters.

    The argument claimed that Booker’s relationship to Blackness was little more than a marketing campaign designed to entice inner-city Black voters to support a candidate owned and operated by outside special interests (read: wealthy White people).

    James argued, in essence, that Booker was “less Black” than himself and the residents of inner-city Newark he viewed as his power base. This required the assumption that a lighter-skinned Black man with a B.A. and M.A. from Stanford, an honors degree from the University of Oxford and a J.D. from Yale Law School could not possibly exude a Blackness worthy of respect by his Newark peers. It’s a difficult, diminishing charge, one that treats academic excellence as somehow anti-Black.

    My concern is that your positions here treat Western cultural facility as somehow anti-Chinese, as if people cannot possess cultural facility in both Chinese and American cultures (no matter their linguistic faculties). There’s little justification for the charge that a person is “less Chinese” or “less Black”, in my view.

    Even when epithets like “Uncle Tom” or “sellout” or “banana” are employed, that language references the idea that the person in question holds and or expresses beliefs that stand opposed to the best interests of the group to which they belong, not that they have somehow abdicated membership in said group.

  12. You have no right to stand in judgment of anyone’s heritage. You have no concept of the language fluency of people with whom you’ve never spoken. You again write as if basic standards of accuracy do not affect you.

    It is true that I usually have no way to judge a stranger’s language fluency whom I’ve never talked to. But I DO have an idea about Jenn’s Chinese language level. She provided me with tons of evidence a couple of years ago when I confronted her for her lies about Chinese language media.

  13. Byron,

    Some Chinese people look down on other Chinese people for not speaking perfectly…. There’s often an expectation that people of Chinese descent SHOULD speak Chinese, and that if they don’t, they’re somehow inferior

    You are the first person to tell me this. I don’t think people in China or grown up FOB immigrants think this way.

    Have you ever met a Chinese who came to this country after age 20 who look down on others for not speaking Chinese perfectly?
    I suspect this is something going on among young oversea Chinese or Chinese Americans who is still struggling with their identities. Teens, especial teenage boys often need to feel good about themselves or feel superior over others, so they sometimes talk down other kids. Typical example are those middle and high school athletes who look down on non-athletic nerds. My teenage son sometimes does this too when he was in middle school.

    So maybe I can open with first talking about my experiences with those students at Cornell from China. So back in the day, I always felt that FOBs looked down on Asian Americans. They always said, “You’re not really Chinese.” The question of “why” was always based on the obvious: you don’t speak Chinese as well as we do, you can’t read jack in Chinese, don’t know s#%t about Chinese history or literature, and you don’t really understand Chinese food the way we do. Plus you’re loud, obnoxious, disrespectful, and hang out with non-Chinese people. Though I was friends with some of these FOBs, there was always that sense of condescension.

    Who are those FOB Chinese that you were hung out with? Are they graduate students? I don’t think graduate students from China would be like that. It is more like some insecure low self-esteem kids who came here in middle or high school. In my experience, these kids were the most troubling who got not cultural root from either side. I also suspect that you probably misinterpret some of them. For example, when they said “you’re not really Chinese”, it didn’t necessarily mean they look down on you.

    You saw what happened to Gary Locke–that happens to ALL of us. No White American ambassador would have ever been subjected to that.

    The problem with Gary Locke is that he and Obama wanted him to take advantage of his Chinese face, but he doesn’t have a Chinese heart. At the very first day he arrived in China, he announced that he is there to represent American interests.

  14. ChineseMom and Snoopy:

    Can we try to make peace on this one? I don’t think ChineseMom was intentionally making any personal attacks; she was just bringing up how Jenn couldn’t read those websites that she was trying to use as her sources (Though to be fair to Jenn, when it comes to written Chinese, I wouldn’t have done much better!). I think Jenn should’ve shown some humility there. She should’ve done exactly what Steve Kaufmann said by seeing herself as Chinese while acknowledging that she can’t read Chinese (and there’s no shame in that). It would’ve alleviated all the misunderstandings. Jenn couldn’t read those media sources she was citing, and ChineseMom, as a native speaker of Chinese, was not in the wrong here.

    Still, on this issue, I emotionally side with Snoopy and Jenn because I’ve been there and have had to deal with attacks on being “less Chinese.” It opens up a lot of raw wounds for Asian Americans like myself and Jenn, and I hope ChineseMom can see this, even though ChineseMom clearly can read Chinese better than either me or Jenn.

    I’ll say more below.

  15. Snoopy,

    If James argued that Cory Booker was less Black, then yes, that’s wrong. He’s clearly not White–at least most people don’t see him as White. That Fresh Prince episode predated Booker vs. Sharpe, and yes, Sharpe should’ve paid attention. So I’m siding with you 100% on this issue.

    I see why you’re making a parallel between Blackness and Chineseness, but I think it’s totally different. In Booker’s case, from what you just told me, it seems that Sharpe was making the argument that Booker’s good education (and maybe lighter skin) made him “less Black.” I’ve heard that that is the case in certain Black communities; that was a point that Dr. Ben Carson made as well. If that exists, then that is both wrong and counterproductive.

    But it’s different for Chinese people. In the case of education, for example, NO ONE in the Chinese community calls someone “less Chinese” for attending a good school. In fact, that’s what every Chinese parent wants. The people that I described in the OP were here since high school or middle school. They were viewed as “less Chinese” for adopting American mannerisms, culture, and for being unfamiliar with life in the motherland, NOT because they went to an American university. So I don’t think the same dynamic that you’re describing with Sharpe/Booker is significant within most Chinese communities. It’s similar, but it’s not the same.

    I can’t really speak about people who left China for college only to return to China right afterwards. I don’t know anyone like that, although my guess is that they would NOT be viewed as less Chinese. Look at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. He was Western-educated. There’s no prejudice against Western education; just prejudice against those who forget or lose Chinese culture.

  16. ChineseMom:

    You are the first person to tell me this. I don’t think people in China or grown up FOB immigrants think this way.

    Have you ever met a Chinese who came to this country after age 20 who look down on others for not speaking Chinese perfectly?

    In a word, YES. There are quite a few Chinese who come here after 20 who look down on us. I had one of these people as a Chinese teacher in college. It was a Chinese woman married to a White guy who someone got it in her head that she was superior to all these Asian Americans because:

    a) She spoke better Chinese, and
    b) “I married Whitey!”

    I had the misfortune of getting placed in her section. Since she was the one grading everything, there wasn’t much I could do about it.

    But yes, this exists, which is probably one reason Jenn reacted so strongly to your pointing out her lack of fluency. We Asian Americans get this all the time. I’m probably more accustomed to it since I hang out with FOBs all the time and am more familiar with the culture, but most Asian Americans are very sensitive to it, which is why there’s been that backlash against all the recent FOB activism by Asian American monolinguals all over the country!

    Who are those FOB Chinese that you were hung out with? Are they graduate students? I don’t think graduate students from China would be like that. It is more like some insecure low self-esteem kids who came here in middle or high school. In my experience, these kids were the most troubling who got not cultural root from either side. I also suspect that you probably misinterpret some of them. For example, when they said “you’re not really Chinese”, it didn’t necessarily mean they look down on you.

    Yes, you are correct. They were just regular undergrads who came here in middle or high school. You’re correct that most grad students were totally chill.

    You’re also probably correct that that they didn’t necessarily look down on us, but it can feel pretty insulting at times when they keep harping on certain issues. I remember one dude who went crazy whenever I didn’t know the food he was talking about, or he’d go crazy when I made mistakes in Chinese. He jumped at the chance to point out these mistakes. It would be like me saying to him, “Hey, you’ve got a funny accent!” and then every few minutes saying something like, “Haha! You can’t pronounce your r’s!” Or “Go down to the store and order a pizza…if the pizza man understands Chinglish!” Yes, I know it’s not necessarily “looking down” on someone to point stuff out, but it gets annoying.

    So yes, you’re probably right, but can you understand how that gets in the way of good relationships?

    In my case, as I pointed out, I was able to see the good things, and so I was also able to overlook the annoyances (although as I mentioned, the relationships failed for other reasons).

    You do actually bring up a good point here. Actually, you and Snoopy both deserve credit for that. A lot of it, I think, depends on the context. If you tell someone you hardly know that he’s “less Chinese,” that could be insulting, even if it’s objectively true.

    The problem with Gary Locke is that he and Obama wanted him to take advantage of his Chinese face, but he doesn’t have a Chinese heart. At the very first day he arrived in China, he announced that he is there to represent American interests.

    But…he’s American, right??? I don’t think Huntsman or any of the previous ambassadors were there to represent America by actually representing China!

  17. BigWOWO:

    Re: parallels between Blackness and Chineseness

    It’s completely true that cultural specificity matters greatly here, and that cross-cultural comparisons are not wise. Because of this, I compare only the pattern of certain members of a particular ethnic or ethno-national group that claim that particular other members of said group are either not members or possess strained, inferior membership in the group based on specific cultural and/or political reasons.

    I understand your reasons to disaggregate ‘pure cultural’ and ‘cultural-political’ issues, but I think we can agree that in real time, people who assert that certain others are not members of their group make what amounts to a political claim. Whether that claim finds basis in pure cultural or cultural-political reasons is almost immaterial.

    Sharpe James claimed that Cory Booker’s Blackness, however one considered it, left him ‘less Black’ than many of those Booker hoped to represent. This claim implied that Cory Booker was insufficiently Black to serve as mayor of Newark, NJ, and therefore illegitimate as a political leader for a majority Black city. Further, James’ claim implied that formal educational attainment, and the cultural proximity to wealthy Whiteness that attainment imposes on its recipients, degraded whatever Black authenticity Booker may have possessed. As a fully formed adult, James claimed in his attacks on Booker, Cory Booker’s Blackness could not possibly prove authentic enough to entrust him with political authority over Black voters.

    The useful parallel here is only that Cory Booker, like countless Chinese and Chinese American students who study in predominately White institutions of higher learning, lacked a choice in these formative moments that Sharpe James claimed made him ‘less Black’, and therefore insufficiently Black to represent Newark’s Black voters in the mayor’s office.

    We agree that Chinese and Chinese American parents wish their children to attend the best possible schools; this desire is plainly shared with Black American parents. If Dr. Ben Carson suggests otherwise, he is mistaken. But your discourse with ChineseMom makes clear that the cultural end-products of these educational goals are not adequately discussed within some Chinese communities.

    You’ve discussed your dealings with Chinese immigrant students who lampooned your facility with Mandarin and your lack of knowledge about certain Chinese cultural practices. ChineseMom’s first impulse was to suggest that she’s never heard of such concerns. This does not surprise: her first impulse in this conversation was to assert that my wife lacked the linguistic and cultural knowledge to be considered fully Chinese. She’s basically made clear that for her, the “less Chinese” insult is a valid one, in part because she doesn’t view her assertions of cultural superiority as insulting. She just sees these assertions as accurate.

    My point is that Sharpe James felt the exact same way about Cory Booker. For James, Booker was at best a tool of outsiders, a blandly Negro Trojan Horse indifferent to the community he loved. Booker, for Sharpe James, lacked the moral authority to speak for or about the Black community needs or urban renewal, because, for James, his Blackness did not meaningfully exist.

    This is also true here, among Chinese and Chinese Americans. Much of the difficulty people on this site have with site’s like Reappropriate and the progressive Asian Americans to whom it speaks stems from this notion of legitimate moral authority. Reappropriate, by virtue of unproven, unverified notions about the author’s linguistic skills, cultural knowledge, and personal life, faces criticism from Chinese and Chinese American conservatives who detest her Asian American feminist politics.

    Disaggragation isn’t possible here. Reading threads on Reddit about Reappropriate, it’s not really clear if people hate Reappropriate’s support for affirmative action or Chinese Canadian upbringing. What enrages them more — her support for affirmative action or her Black husband? The overall picture strikes these detractors as “less Chinese”, as insufficiently Chinese to deserve a platform in which she may speak openly about her community and the politics she and they navigate. In total, people use the “less Chinese” epithet to suggest that Reappropriate lacks moral authority to speak and write and lead.

    Clear parallels abound between this treatment Reappropriate faces from people like ChineseMom and disgruntled Redditors and that which Cory Booker faced from Sharpe James. BigWOWO, you wish to justify a position where a perceived lack of linguistic and cultural knowledge may be viewed as a “lesser” connection to a particular ethnic or ethno-national group. I disagree with this largely because the normative ramifications of such thinking leave people considered “less Chinese” and “less Black” without their consent, and because such consideration sharply reduce the political influence individuals possess within the only communities they consider home, again without their consent.

    It’s not right that you would be considered “less Chinese” by a Chinese immigrant, nor is it right that the Chinese immigrant would be considered “less Chinese” by a PRC national. People should accept that there exists different ways to be Chinese, and that one person’s Chineseness need not reflect another’s to be reasonably considered legitimate.

  18. Snoopy,

    Rather than refute your statements directly, let me offer another example as to why this comparison is flawed.

    So I deal with lots of Chinese Chinese parents. Meaning that they’re from China, speak better Chinese than I do, and generally come from a cultural background that is far more Chinese than mine. More than once, I’ve had conversations with Chinese Americans about these Chinese Chinese parents. Sometimes I have these conversations with Chinese Chinese parents themselves. We’ll say stuff like, “John is really Chinese.” When we say this, we’re indicating that his outlook is Chinese, similar to ChineseMom’s. Doesn’t mean he’s better than me or worse than me; it simply means he’s more Chinese. I take no umbrage at my own words. Similarly, I’ve heard Chinese people say, “Man, that guy is really Americanized.” It’s a recognition of the difference of cultures.

    Now I doubt that you would ever say, “Man, that James Sharpe is really Black!” Black is a race, not a culture. But on the other hand, you probably also wouldn’t say, “Man, that James Sharpe is really African American!”

    So it’s very hard to compare the two.

    Similarly, no one in the Asian community gets flack for going to a good school. Ben Carson said that a good education can make one an outcast in inner city Black communities; your peers won’t respect it and will think of you as being whiter. I think you’re kind of saying the same thing, right? That’s what got Sharpe elected, right? But in Asian communities, whether among parents or peers, a good education is looked highly upon and is NOT ever seen as a force that makes one less Chinese. As I said, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, the founder of modern China, was Western-educated.

    I’m finding myself agreeing with you on just about everything you’re saying about Booker/Sharpe. I’m also agreeing with you (and Ben Carson) on the education thing. But I’m also feeling like this parallel simply doesn’t exist among the Chinese.

    As I said above, I know Jenn was upset at being called “less Chinese,” but I think we have to acknowledge the reason why that was said, i.e. she couldn’t read her own sources that she was trying to use to make a point that was incredibly insulting towards Chinese immigrants. The answer to that is NOT to simply assert Chineseness. The answer is to:

    a) accept the fact that she is less Chinese on account of her language skills and cultural knowledge, or

    b) start studying to become more Chinese.

    I mean, seriously, look at me. I can speak okay, but am I chasing the Chinese dream by throwing myself into Chinese books, language study, and travel? No. Does that mean I’m less Chinese than a Chinese person who does? Yes. Does that make me a lesser person? I sure hope not.

    I think ChineseMom has smacked me around for my lack of Chinese cultural knowledge at times. How did I react? I became the student. That is the ONLY rational way to act when someone knows more than you. If someone knows more, you might as well learn from them. On the other hand, there are areas where I know more than ChineseMom. We’ve had good discussions in those areas as well.

  19. BigWOWO:

    1) Again, we agree that cross-cultural comparisons are massively difficult. I do not believe I make a cross-cultural comparison; rather, I compare the pattern apparent in both groups of certain members who assert that others are “less X”, and therefore less identified with the group culture in question.

    2) I take no issue with the assertion that no one in the Asian community ‘gets flack’ for attending selective, highly regarded schools. The same is true in the Black community. What is clear, however, is that people in both communities receive criticism for the perception of altered identity some people find in the students who attend those schools.

    Dr. Ben Carson, as a routine part of his stump speech (I listened to this directly last semester here at Yale) references his adoration for Mozart when most of his neighborhood peers listened to Motown. Dr. Carson’s use of this anecdote is to contrast his appreciation for classical Western musical genius, in contrast to the proletarian protest sound favored by his contemporaries. The obvious problem for Dr. Carson is that the Motown sound presents classic Western musical genius as well, but for our purposes the anecdote clearly outlines the ostracism Carson must have felt when his divergence from popularly accepted Black cultural norms became fodder for insult and ridicule.

    But along with Dr. Carson, we should be clear about the nature of these insults. Black children do not attack others for attending amazing schools anymore than Chinese children would. The attack references the perceived deviations from popularly accepted internal cultural norms displayed by some children from minority backgrounds after interaction with mainstream American Whites; the attack references Americanization, nothing more. Clearly, that attack finds voice among Chinese and Chinese American communities, as well as among the darker nation.

    3) Instead of ‘simply asserting Chineseness’, you believe people who are accused of being ‘less Chinese’ should accept the criticism as valid, and if anything, work to learn more Chinese culture and heritage. I believe you conclude this in large part because you focus on the ‘pure culture’ element of this critique, and ignore the ‘cultural-political’ element. I believe this stance to be in error.

    At what point can a person considered “less Chinese” promote their own political perspectives and ambitions with full support from their community? Without question, there are ethnocentric, xenophobic, misogynistic strains within Chinese culture worthy of critique. The “less Chinese” label has been used by people who are comfortable with such strains as justification for ignoring those critiques by attacking those who vocalize concern with those strains.

    Reappropriate is often told that her deviations from Chinese ‘norms’ should mean that she should lack influence among Chinese and Chinese American people. Those who view Reappropriate as “less Chinese” also view her political perspectives as inadmissible among and dangerous to Chinese and Chinese American people. As said previously, we cannot disaggregate the pure cultural critique from the cultural-political critique here, because detractors use the perceived alterations some have from cultural norms as reason to silence political perspectives.

    This is how Sharpe James attacked Cory Booker. Booker’s policy proscriptions to improve Newark’s economy and attract commercial and industrial interests to the city were treated by James as designed to assist non-Black voters, without evidence, because James viewed Booker as a tool of non-Black interests. There, any purely cultural critique easily colored substantive political critiques in large measure because James convinced voters that the perceived cultural differences between themselves and Cory Booker both could not be overcome and marked Booker in a static condition where inner-city Blacks must regard him with perpetual distrust.

    This parallels the ongoing and unceasing fear and loathing Reappropriate and Asian American feminists like her receive from reactionary Chinese and Chinese Americans (mostly, but not exclusively men) who find her feminism an imposition they cannot tolerate after they identify her Chineseness as deficient and inferior and bizarre.

    So BigWOWO, I have to ask: since the stakes of the “less Chinese” epithet involve permanent political ostracism along with cultural derision from within one’s community, how ought we judge the moral implications of the “less Chinese” label? Even if, as you suggest, some apply this epithet for purely cultural reasons, the epithet still retains clearly damaging political implications that force silence and quell dissent from its victims. How do you grapple with these concerns?

  20. Snoopy,

    1. I agree with point #1…in some cases, although not all.

    2) I take no issue with the assertion that no one in the Asian community ‘gets flack’ for attending selective, highly regarded schools. The same is true in the Black community. What is clear, however, is that people in both communities receive criticism for the perception of altered identity some people find in the students who attend those schools.

    No and no. The same is not true in the “Black community.” It’s true for you because you’re the son of two well-to-do college educated Black people, and you hang out mostly with other well-to-do college educated people, but it’s not true in a large part of the Black community. That’s what Ben Carson was talking about. That’s what Bill Cosby used to talk about. That’s what Oprah talked about when she talked about the inner city kids being more interested in sneakers and iPods. Please google “acting white” if you want to see what the rest of Black America is going through.

    And no, Asian people who attend good schools do NOT receive criticism for altered identities because of their school. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to tell you; our communities are not the same. I wish they were, but they’re not. You’re tripping over your own contradictions here, James. That Sharpe/Booker thing would never have taken place among Asian Americans because our culture doesn’t support such a schism.

    2.

    At what point can a person considered “less Chinese” promote their own political perspectives and ambitions with full support from their community?

    Isn’t Jenn a good example of this? She’s more or less got 100% support from her community (the Far Left community). There are lots of Chinese people who support her, even though just about all of those people, including her friends, would consider her “less Chinese” than someone like ChineseMom.

    Now is she going to get support from regular Asian working people who are struggling to send their kids to college? No, but it has more to do with her political leanings rather than her familiarity with Chinese culture. For example, if she were to flip to fight against affirmative action, her popularity would go up–simply because she’d be advocating for Asians. She could do this without studying a single word of Chinese. As you can see, her support or lack of support really has nothing to do with her cultural or linguistic fluency. It only comes up when people want to make the point that she can’t understand the language of the people she says she’s advocating for. But if she were on the other side, no one would bring it up.

    My point is that she’s capable of getting support, whether or not she’s fluent in Chinese. The “less Chinese” thing has nothing to do with her popularity or support; it’s the content of her advocacy that makes the difference.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we agree on the existence of the “pure culture” element vs. “cultural-political” element, but I think you’re overstating the power of the cultural-political element. Most of us spend more time in the “pure cultural” realm than you acknowledge.

  21. Look, I agree with you that people could be softer in the ways that they disagree with Jenn. But these are political disagreements first and foremost. Culture only enters the conversation because of the political disagreements.

  22. “That’s what Oprah talked about when she talked about the inner city kids being more interested in sneakers and iPods. Please google “acting white” if you want to see what the rest of Black America is going through.” — BigWOWO

    “Being more interested in sneakers and iPods” is not interchangeable with giving someone flack for attending a selective, highly regarded school. The entire ‘acting White’ phenomenon reacts to exactly what I’ve been talking about: a person’s perceived loss/ abandonment of internal cultural heritage in favor of the mainstream outside.

    Put another way, the children who treated me like an alien, who perceived me as conceptually unlike them throughout my K-12 experience did not disdain my intelligence. They took issue with the cultural unfamiliarity I represented. They responded negatively toward the implicit critique of their cultural upbringing I lodged with every perfectly enunciated syllable.

    To assume that these Black children disdained intelligence itself makes a difficult claim about Black culture that requires Black mediocrity stereotypes to function. To the extent that Dr. Ben Carson, Bill Cosby , and Oprah Winfrey trafficked in such stereotypes, they were morally wrong and factually inaccurate.

  23. “That Sharpe/Booker thing would never have taken place among Asian Americans because our culture doesn’t support such a schism.” — BigWOWO

    I disagree. I think the fault line between people like ChineseMom and the Asian American male Redditors on one side and Reappropriate on the other parallels the Sharpe James/ Cory Booker rift. People who consider themselves exemplars of their minority community make assumptions about and cast aspersions on those they perceive to deviate from what they consider normal (themselves) and use that perceived cultural difference to justify their ever-present and highly personal attacks on those they consider different. In both instances, the Sharpe James/ ChineseMom faction presents itself as the cultural standard by which others may be reasonably judged, and jealously guards this status.

    The Sharpe James/ ChineseMom traditionalist faction resists diversity, opposes cosmopolitanism, and expects deference from youthful upstarts who do not require traditionalist cultural support or political backing to press their own community uplift perspectives into wider circulation. Reappropriate does not ask permission from the WeChat crowd before she publishes a blog post on immigrant Chinese affirmative action misinformation; it’s no wonder that political elements from that demographic take issue with her writing.

    When Reappropriate writes acidly about misogyny among Asian Americans, no male authorizes this speech before publication. It’s not surprising that some Asian American males take umbrage at the final result: Reappropriate doesn’t bend the knee before self-appointed cultural gatekeepers, and the writing reflects her freedom to engage political differences with those folk.

    In truth, your culture bursts with such schisms, BigWOWO. When Helen Zia wrote articles about and advocated for justice for Vincent Chin, plenty of Chinese American voices found her activism both too strident and too feminist. Traditionalism proved an antagonist to Zia as well. It is the assumption of unified culture and politics among Chinese and Chinese Americans that make your group’s arguments so personal and polarized, in my view. ChineseMom will never let go of the point where she believes that she proved Reappropriate’s Mandarin facility, because for ChineseMom, no one who lacks her Mandarin skill can possess a political opinion worth her time.

    Once she determined, however falsely, that Reappropriate’s Mandarin did not equal hers, she proceeded to treat Reappropriate’s general critiques as invalid. That illustrates a political decision made by ChineseMom that stemmed from a cultural difference. This parallels Sharpe James’ political decision to regard Cory Booker’s plans to revitalize Newark, N.J. as immaterial and illegitimate after his cultural decision to regard Cory Booker as “less Black”.

    The schism happens among Chinese people all the time, BigWOWO.

  24. Snoopy,

    To assume that these Black children disdained intelligence itself makes a difficult claim about Black culture that requires Black mediocrity stereotypes to function. To the extent that Dr. Ben Carson, Bill Cosby , and Oprah Winfrey trafficked in such stereotypes, they were morally wrong and factually inaccurate.

    Have you ever stopped to think why you–a well-off Black dude who has never volunteered in the inner city–see the world so differently from Black people who grew up in poverty, left poverty, and have then spent large chunks of their time and money giving back to those in poverty? Oprah has given millions to help inner city kids. Cosby used to have a scholarship to help young Black men go to college. They know what they’re talking about. You call them stereotypes, but they’re not. There is a serious problem here, Snoopy, and you’re reacting by covering your eyes and ears and pretending it’s not there. It doesn’t help.

    I’m not really familiar with the personal attacks on Jenn. I saw what ChineseMom wrote, but I didn’t think it was that bad–after all, it was undeniable that Jenn couldn’t read the Chinese sites, and Jenn’s comments…well, they weren’t very nice. Comparing ChineseMom to James Sharpe is kinda like comparing me to Bill O’Reilly–oh yeah, y’all have done that too!

    Look, can we step back and acknowledge that politics is poisoning us all? Seriously, James, there’s no point. Instead of us dwelling in the political-cultural, why not take a step back and try to enter the pure-cultural world?

    I’ve tried for years to help Black people by bringing some Asian culture to the conversation, much the way Malcolm did. If you’re going to stop me, fine. I’m not going to give up, but I’ll step aside for a while if it makes it better. So maybe instead of dwelling in the political, let’s toss all that aside and see where we can make progress on the pure cultural front.

    What would you do to make progress?

    I’d forgotten what the OP was about, but this is exactly what it’s about. If you “become Chinese,” it means you drop all the baggage you have in order to get in the door. That’s not a bad idea. At the very least, this would bring more peace to your life. Let’s drop the baggage, Snoopy, and just enter the world of the pure cultural. Find a culture or language, and become one with it.

  25. bigWOWO,

    In a word, YES. There are quite a few Chinese who come here after 20 who look down on us. I had one of these people as a Chinese teacher in college. It was a Chinese woman married to a White guy who someone got it in her head that she was superior to all these Asian Americans because:

    I suspect that you misread them. They probably felt inferior to you so that they talk you down. This is their ways of self-defense. Chinese immigrants only have disadvantages compare to Asian Americans who grew up here since little, especially during 80’s and 90’s when China was very poor and undeveloped. Just as you said earlier:”The only thing the FOBs really had going for them was that they were culturally closer to the Motherland and that they spoke better Chinese”, that can not be the basis to look down on somebody. Frank Wu said in that letter that “they are aware of our condescension, even if we would deny it. As with other groups of every color and creed, those who settled, if only slightly earlier, invariably imply they are better than their country cousins”. I think what he said here hold more truth. Those FOB Chinese probably often felt Asian American’s condescension, so they took every chance to talk you down, even yourself might not look down on them.

    But yes, this exists, which is probably one reason Jenn reacted so strongly to your pointing out her lack of fluency.

    I don’t remember that Jenn reacted strongly to my pointing out her lack of fluency. I caught her lying about Chinese language media and asked her to show the proofs of her accusations, then she told more lies to cover up her earlier lies. In the process, she showed that she obviously can’t read Chinese. Only after that, I pointed out that her lack of fluency made her no way to tell what’s been said in Chinese language media. I didn’t look down on her for lack of fluency, but I probably showed my disdain for her not telling the truth and telling more lies after being caught.

    but most Asian Americans are very sensitive to it, which is why there’s been that backlash against all the recent FOB activism by Asian American monolinguals all over the country!

    I don’t quite get what you mean here. The backlash against us because we said something about their lack of language fluency? I’m not aware that anybody said anything about language. I think the backlash is quite normal because FOB activism made Asian American activists look bad. Even I myself often feel nervous and embarrassed by many things that some of the FOB activists did.

  26. But…he’s American, right??? I don’t think Huntsman or any of the previous ambassadors were there to represent America by actually representing China!

    But Huntsman or any of the previous ambassadors didn’t make that kind of statements. People in China often view oversea Chinese and Chinese descendants as “us”. I think the US government and Locke know this. He didn’t want Chinese to view him as “us”, that’s why he made that statement, which was considered as an slap in face by some in China. But later he played some “I’m one of you” game to try to gain favor of Chinese.

    This job is difficult because that the US doesn’t view China as a friend but as threat and need to be contained. Part of his job in China was to hurt China which he obviously did a lot. If a White person does that, it won’t hurt as much and it is expect. When a Chinese descendant does that, what reaction he can expect from Chinese?

  27. ChineseMom will never let go of the point where she believes that she proved Reappropriate’s Mandarin facility, because for ChineseMom, no one who lacks her Mandarin skill can possess a political opinion worth her time.
    – Snoopy

    Come on Snoopy, I think you are intentionally oversimplifying this. Now I’ll admit that I wasn’t there to witness Chinesemom’s original dispute with Jenn but I think after reading some of these comments that I can add 1 plus 1 and provide a more accurate assessment than your quote above:
    The assessment of many posters here as well as several Asian SJWs themselves (based in their own comments) is that Asian SJWs in general have very little feel for what mainland and immigrant Chinese think, feel and believe (though I can’t say that I’ve ever seen Jenn admit this about herself). Since (apparently) Jenn can’t read Chinese, or reads poorly, she would have to rely on what others tell her or read articles written through the eyes of Westerners (Chinese or otherwise) on Chinese matters. Now, wouldn’t it be a bit arrogant on Jenn’s part to believe that her knowledge is on par with Chinesemom’s in terms of understand all things Chinese?

  28. “Now, wouldn’t it be a bit arrogant on Jenn’s part to believe that her knowledge is on par with Chinesemom’s in terms of understand all things Chinese?” — MMJames

    The point isn’t whether Reappropriate’s Mandarin fluency proves on par with ChineseMom, the point is whether a difference in Mandarin fluency can be reasonably used to dismiss someone’s political perspectives. The obvious answer is no.

    So when ChineseMom begins her commentary in this thread with an attack on Reappropriate, someone who is not speaking here, it illustrates her inability to regard people who she believes to lack her Chinese language skills to possess a connection to Chinese heritage worthy of her respect.

    Bottom line, traditionalists like ChineseMom retard progress for ethnic and ethno-national communities, because they prove unwilling to allow new forms of ethnic connectivity to thrive. Look upthread: ChineseMom begins her commentary in this thread questioning Reappropriate’s values out of the blue. She offers a stark example of what happens when communities find it permissible to consider members of their number “less X”. Enmity and social conflict thrive, and factions within the community avoid cosmopolitan modernity.

    Of course the political perspectives of many mainland and immigrant Chinese do not find expression from blogs like Reappropriate: that blog does not exist for them. It speaks to Asian American feminists, mainly. But none of that can reasonably mean that the blog’s author is “less Chinese”, as if Chineseness is a quantifiable quality determined by traditionalists like ChineseMom.

    Frankly, the political perspectives of mainland and immigrant Chinese do not translate well to American domestic politics, as recent protests over affirmative action and immigration policy and police malfeasance suggest. Most of the time people like ChineseMom lack the American civic history to understand the writing there, much less the arguments presented. They have anemic knowledge of and respect for Asian American history and culture, and fail when they apply their old-world reasoning to domestic American macroeconomic policy. If anyone needs to sit down and assume the role of student, it’s people like ChineseMom, who lack American cultural fluency yet debate American political concerns. But you know what’s funny MMJames? Even with that obvious ignorance ChineseMom displays in these debates, no one considers her less Chinese or less American. It doesn’t occur to anyone to deny her her heritage.

    What we’re debating is a moral question: is it reasonable to consider others deficient in connection to a shared identity than oneself? The only logical and moral answer is a resounding no.

  29. mmjames,

    Thanks for defending me. I don’t really care about what Snoopy says about me. It is useless to argue with him on this. He is very much like Trump in a way that he has alternative facts, alternative logic, alternative memories, alternative definition for words, and he truly believes in what he said even though they are all false.

  30. Snoopy,

    The point isn’t whether Reappropriate’s Mandarin fluency proves on par with ChineseMom, the point is whether a difference in Mandarin fluency can be reasonably used to dismiss someone’s political perspectives. The obvious answer is no.

    What you are talking about? What Jenn’s political perspectives I dismissed because of her lack of Chinese fluency? What do one’s political perspectives have anything to do with his/her language fluency and how can I dismiss that?

  31. Snoopy,

    Even with that obvious ignorance ChineseMom displays in these debates, no one considers her less Chinese or less American. It doesn’t occur to anyone to deny her her heritage.

    Actually, I don’t think I’m much of an American. I also consider myself less Chinese than most of Chinese in China, because I rejected many thing in Chinese culture. It is no big deal to me if somebody says that I’m not American or not Chinese. Nobody can deny my Chinese heritage besides myself.

    Also, Snoopy, you made a lot of accusations about me and Chinese immigrants, could you even prove one of your accusation with facts and logic? You are going to law school, I think this is the most basic skill needed in law school and as a lawyer.

  32. snoopy,

    If anyone needs to sit down and assume the role of student, it’s people like ChineseMom, who lack American cultural fluency yet debate American political concerns.

    I predicted Trump’s winning of GOP presidential nomination in last March and his winning of presidency a couple of days before the general election in my Chinese social media groups ( I can show you the proofs if you want:)). I also said here last September that Trump will win (http://www.bigwowo.com/2016/09/in-the-minds-of-those-on-the-left-and-right-extremes/#comment-325036). Considering most of the political elites in this country failed to anticipate his winning, Doesn’t this prove that I probably understand American culture, American society and politics better than most of those experts? 🙂

  33. mmjames,

    You nailed it. That’s exactly what happened. The only thing you missed was a rather comical exchange where said person tried to downplay the significance of human Chinese language skills with references to Google Translate.

    ChineseMom,

    Well, it’s kind of hard to see it as self-defense since she was the one grading me, not the other way around. She was getting paid to dole out the punishment, while I was the one paying for it!

    I actually do agree with you. But it goes the same way in both directions. Unlike the SJW’s, most Asian Americans, raised with the idea of knowledge as a good thing, view bilingualism as a form of knowledge. Many of us can speak but can’t read, so we feel inferior in that sense. Y’all also come from a country where Asians run everything, so there’s that bit of envy too.

    I didn’t look down on her for lack of fluency, but I probably showed my disdain for her not telling the truth and telling more lies after being caught.

    I just don’t think Jenn can see things from another person’s perspective. It’s not that she’s intentionally trying to lie; it’s just that she’s used to just throwing things out to see what sticks, no matter how ridiculous. She sees herself as a teacher, not a student. A teacher who throws things.

    And I think that’s what the OP is saying. To learn a language, you need to become part of that culture, and you need to just absorb it–like a student who is already a part of that culture. Not everyone has the desire to achieve that though. Some people just prefer to throw things.

    Now about the backlash–it’s the same exact thing! You read some of these SJW’s words, and you wonder–if they’re so clueless, why don’t they just pick up a phone and talk to a FOB who can give them a clue as to what’s going on in the real world? Yes, no one said anything about language or culture. But that’s the big elephant in the room. The reason they shout through the media rather than talk to YOU is that they are afraid to talk in your language, afraid of the mockery. They are afraid to see how you really live. They are afraid of what they might find out, afraid of being wrong. So they use their advantages–better English skills, more money, friends in the Black Lives Matter movement and in the media–to attack you. The backlash to your movement was hard and swift because they don’t like the fact that you’re speaking so loudly while making them feel so bad about themselves at the same time.

    This is the central issue we’re dealing with now. I haven’t thought it through as much as I should, but even at the most basic level, I don’t think Asian American monolingualism is going to work. We Asian Americans don’t need fluency, but we need to do a better job of crossing that gulf, and the best way is through language. I don’t think it’s fair to expect proficiency, but a word or two can go a long way.

    Now what you said about Gary Locke is very interesting. I agree with you. But at the same time, there’s a bit of a hard double standard there. Locke doesn’t speak Chinese. As the first Chinese American ambassador to China, he didn’t want to get rolled over. But then again, it’s quite hard since he doesn’t have the language skills.

    To be honest, I think it may have something to do with this distrust that we’ve been discussing. Locke needed to maintain his dignity as an envoy while not letting people insult him for his language skills and Americanisms–which they did, even before he got off the plane. It’s a very hard balance to maintain.

  34. “You read some of these SJW’s words, and you wonder–if they’re so clueless, why don’t they just pick up a phone and talk to a FOB who can give them a clue as to what’s going on in the real world?” — BigWOWO

    Because talking to some people kinda sucks.

    None of us should feel obligated to endure the regressive, backward, ignorant, anti-modern perspectives of people saddled with old-world thinking and ancient paradigms who deputize themselves culture police and deny the shared cultural background of people within their ethnic or ethno-national group. If you believe that Chinese Americans owe fresh off the boat Chinese immigrants respect, patience, and open-mindedness, then it’s reasonable to suggest that the fresh off the boat Chinese immigrants owe Chinese Americans similar behavior.

    BigWOWO, your own testimony in this conversation makes clear many immigrant Chinese do not provide such respect, patience, and open-mindedness to their Chinese American counterparts. By your admission, some Chinese immigrants take issue with your language skills, your American mannerisms, your comparatively weaker handle on Chinese history and literature. As stated previously, this thread offers abundant evidence of this: ChineseMom plays the FOB who cannot help but insult Reappropriate, an Asian American feminist, for her linguistic skills and personal background.

    Frankly, none of these people deserve a deference they do not provide others. Some Americans take issue with many immigrant Chinese stances on affirmative action, immigration policy, and police malfeasance because those stances display abundant ignorance of Asian American history, gaudy obeisance to White supremacy, and indifferent bigotry toward other peoples of color.

    Some Chinese immigrants treat critiques of the model minority myth or Asian American misogyny as immaterial and meaningless, in part because they cannot imagine meritorious cultural critiques levied toward their demographic that emerge from Western voices.

    Some Chinese immigrants often ignore the abundant diversity inherent within mainland China itself. In doing so, they essentialize Chinese culture, and pretend that they may fairly arbitrate who is and is not meaningfully Chinese. This is farce. ChineseMom has no more right to define who is or is not “less Chinese” than anyone else. Her strict constructionist views on Chinese culture only bolster her conservatism, and isolate her from competing ideas in the West.

    ChineseMom and people like her hide from the real world, BigWOWO. They hide in World Journal, they hide in WeChat, they hide in Mandarin-only spaces, and they hide among millions of Donald J. Trump supporters, people who desperately cling to the idea that a global marketplace will make room for their families and their ambitions alone, and keep members of the darker nation bound to a lower caste status they can never escape.

    ChineseMom and her ilk thrive amid balkanized suburbs where they fear and loathe the urban denizens who travel miles away from home to manicure their lawns and clean their pools and drive their Ubers. No wonder she, given her own admission, predicted Donald J. Trump’s rise to power. Crazy recognizes crazy.

    “It is no big deal to me if somebody says that I’m not American or not Chinese. Nobody can deny my Chinese heritage besides myself.” — ChineseMom

    If this is true for ChineseMom, the relevant follow-up question asks why she feels it necessary to deny the Chinese heritage of other people. But we know the answer: ChineseMom lacks the cultural and political competency to recognize that the freedom she enjoys to ignore others who could deny her cultural heritage is a freedom everyone should share.

    BigWOWO, you navigate a tightrope. You find value in the immigrant Chinese perspective, while you respect that as a Chinese American, you cannot reflect immigrant Chinese perspectives in all things. This tension bleeds through your original post, and through our conversation.

    I understand these conversations can be difficult for you. But this need not be contentious: the solution here is to respect that people within the same ethnic or ethno-national groups may approach their shared heritage in infinitely different ways, while retaining full membership in said group.

    The era of critiquing other people’s ethnic membership is over.

  35. Gee, Snoopy, do you know who you are insulting?

    Because talking to some people kinda sucks.

    None of us should feel obligated to endure the regressive, backward, ignorant, anti-modern perspectives of people saddled with old-world thinking and ancient paradigms who deputize themselves culture police and deny the shared cultural background of people within their ethnic or ethno-national group.

    Is this the reason that Jenn would rather be clueless than pick up a phone and talk to her parents? I really feel sorry for her and her parents. And I suspect most of the SJWs view their parents this way. They don’t have good relationship with they parents, that’s why they don’t talk to them to get some idea of what’s going on, they rather tilting at windmills.

    If this is true for ChineseMom, the relevant follow-up question asks why she feels it necessary to deny the Chinese heritage of other people.

    Do really you know the meaning of denying someone’s culture heritage? I suggest you to watch the documentary “The Thick Dark Fog” (http://thickdarkfog.com/) to get a grip of it. Gee, how did you get into Cornell and now law school? The standard for African American can’t be this low.

  36. “Is this the reason that Jenn would rather be clueless than pick up a phone and talk to her parents? I really feel sorry for her and her parents. And I suspect most of the SJWs view their parents this way. They don’t have good relationship with they parents, that’s why they don’t talk to them to get some idea of what’s going on, they rather tilting at windmills.” — ChineseMom

    ChineseMom, you are beneath contempt.

    Seriously, this needless, baseless attack on my wife and her family is exactly why you were banned from Reappropriate. You display no ability whatsoever to debate ideas instead of people.

    As the resident exemplar of the immigrant Chinese community in this space, you justify through your conduct every conclusion I reach about your demographic. Luckily, most immigrant Chinese are respectful and open-minded and human enough to avoid the overt sociopathy you display here.

    You lack basic decorum, ChineseMom. I’m done with you.

  37. It seems Snoopy idea of cosmopolitan diversity is just cheap diversity. Progressives can be just as bigoted as traditionalists. They are flip sides of the same coin; they are too focused on wishing to set up their promised land despite a significant amount of people thinking that is a pretty crappy place to live. That he does not want to split the cultural with with cultural/political is telling. It would force him to see things in a different way.

    You are who you are. You cannot have your whole life in China, immigrate sometime in your life from China to the US, and have your whole life in the US. Each is a different experience. You can have friends and learn from their experiences. You can also make fun of someone for doing so. You cannot deny these things just because it is better that people are not ridiculed, or even because you did the ridiculing.

    I am not a big fan of cosmopolitan diversity if it simply seeks to keep a superficial diversity, but you are forced to conform on the deeper things that matter. The benefits of diversity, can only be achieved with the risks of it. And you must face the risks of diversity. Real diversity would have the progressives and traditionalists learning to live together, and not living in their enclaves pretending the others don’t exists, other than when they degrade each other.

    It might be helpful to remember the idea that it is me against my siblings. My siblings and I against my cousins. My cousins and I against my clan. My clan and I against the other clans. My group and I against my nation. My nation and I against the other nations. Depending upon where you put your focus all Asians my stand together, but if you go down another level it may be Asian Americans against FOBs and mainlanders. Factions will always exist, but factions will also come together to help each other out. It is best to recognize the differences, so you can appreciate the other as unique who can bring some sort of benefit. Look for the negative and you will find it. Look for the positive and you will find it. Be careful about selecting your perspective.

  38. Jman, even if one subscribes to a general theory of factionalism, as you do, that does not suggest any cheapness in cosmopolitan diversity. I believe cosmopolitanism offers the best opportunity for unlike groups to interact. Of course conflict will arise amid such interaction: no one denies this. But none of the inter-communal or intra-communal conflict we discuss here requires on to deny another’s ethnic heritage.

    No one need consider another person’s connection to their ethnic heritage impure or diluted or indistinct or substandard to disagree with their political positions or critique their cultural socialization. The entire framework BigWOWO outlined in the original post seems an ethical middle ground between authoritative culture shaming and permissive cultural self-definition. As I said previously, I thought BigWOWO offered a cogent, well-articulated argument for his position.

    I do not share his position, however, and it’s not because I want diversity on the cheap. I believe any ethical framework on these concerns requires people to discard the idea that one may reasonably stand in judgment of another’s cultural connectivity. The potential interpersonal and political harm possible under BigWOWO’s framework appears to me to be too much to pay to allow the most regressed members of an ethnic group the ability to harangue others who innovate their politics in ways the scolds do not like.

  39. The vast majority of places are not conducive to being cosmopolitan, because in most places very few cultures interact. These are also the places that holds a lot of the source cultures that make the cosmopolitan places cosmopolitan. If you want to be cosmopolitan you have to realize you lose an ability to experience a culture in a certain way. A serial philander may know a lot of things about women, but he will not know what it is like to be loyal to only one woman for decades. Each knows something about women that the other cannot know.

    You seem hung up on deny cultural heritage of another. The only thing I can say is that it is like any other claim. It can be true or false or conditional based on further distinctions.

    The other thing is while you seem to want a way forward that produces the least harm, you just brush away the fact that you a painting large groups of people as regressive. You come off as to me the most righteous, but kind of wave away that you are also the most damning.

  40. ChineseMom,

    Thick Dark Fog looks interesting.

    Also, if you didn’t get my e-mail, let me know. I wasn’t sure which e-mail to use. I think it’s an opportunity that could help explain to the world what real Chinese immigrants think about politics in America.

    Snoopy,

    I agree with jman. I also think you’re going a bit far with your claim that ChineseMom made an “attack” on your wife and her parents. Attack? That’s a bit strong. If I were married to a Black woman and I came here and started denigrating Black people (as you have done to Asian immigrants), you’d say, “But dude, what do you think about your in-laws?” It’s a natural question, right? Seriously, put yourself in ChineseMom’s shoes. A Black guy married to a Chinese woman with Chinese immigrant parents says that her demographic is “regressive” and isn’t worth talking to. Wouldn’t that at least prompt the question of “what about your in-laws?”?

    The thing you have to realize, Snoopy, is that for all your talk of diversity, your lifestyle actually produces far less diversity. Reappropriate, for example, despite all the support of the Social Justice Warriors, ONLY appeals to Social Justice Warriors. Here, we’ve had a Black child of immigrants, an African American who is the descendant of slaves, Nigerian women, a Chinese immigrant, a guy from some rural area of India, etc. How is it that we get so much diversity here? What are we doing right?

    I think I can answer that question. What we get right is that we don’t talk down to people–including you. We try to understand people and where they come from. The end result is true diversity.

    BigWOWO, your own testimony in this conversation makes clear many immigrant Chinese do not provide such respect, patience, and open-mindedness to their Chinese American counterparts. By your admission, some Chinese immigrants take issue with your language skills, your American mannerisms, your comparatively weaker handle on Chinese history and literature.

    Not necessarily. What if it’s a misunderstanding? You saw what ChineseMom wrote. Yes, I thought it was condescending. But what if it was a reactive response?

    Let turn it back to Black people. Michael Gurian volunteers with an organization called, “100 Black Men of America.” He had seen study after study saying that young Black men in America have the highest self-esteem level of all groups of men. From his experience, he doubted the studies, so he dug further. He found that young Black men talk the most, talk the loudest, and often brag more than men of other races. But from his volunteer work, he hypothesized that they were talking most because they were trying to make up for a lack of self-esteem, not from an excess of self-esteem. The old social scientists had seen the same data, but they had interpreted the data in a completely different way.

    I’m not a psychologist, so I won’t guess who is right. But could it be possible that the old studies are wrong based on a misreading of culture and people?

    I think this is what jman is talking about when he says you want diversity on the cheap. It’s not real diversity if you’re just looking for people of many races who agree with you or think the same way you do.

  41. ChineseMom didn’t ask a ‘natural question’. She asserted a false claim based on zero evidence about my wife and her parents. To argue that such a claim is not an attack is to argue that the term ‘ad hominem’ lacks all meaning.

    Frankly, ChineseMom’s commentary proves only that my arguments about some immigrant Chinese have merit, especially in her case.

    As for the diversity of this space, I think you should look around. Consistent commenters here are almost always men of East Asian decent. Outliers like those you mention rarely, if ever comment. Further, a simple nationality census proves a poor method with which to determine diversity. Ideologically speaking, this site offers solace to a striking number of race conservatives.

    To be blunt, if you seriously find this place diverse BigWOWO, that presents the most powerful endorsement of ‘diversity on the cheap’ possible. Most people here agree with you on affirmative action, disdain for Asian American feminism, unconsidered defense of free speech (however toxic the content), and knee-jerk support for immigrants, however small-minded their perspectives.

    The only consistent disagreement with you here is me. Diversity happens when I show up.

  42. Aight, Snoopy. No, not everyone here agrees with my stance on affirmative action–King supports it in employment, Aardvark supports it in many areas, and ChineseMom even supports it in college admissions. I think we’ve got one person here who calls himself conservative. Notty is Hispanic, King is Black…but I think you’ve tired them all out so you’ve won the war of attrition. You’re about to beat me at that game too!

    All I can say is that I can talk to people of any culture. Any culture. I don’t get easily offended, nor do I nitpick to find reasons to be offended. I am fluent in culture because I can empathize with people of other cultures. I don’t think that’s true of most people on the Far Left, despite all the talk about inclusiveness and diversity.

  43. Snoopy..,

    I have been coming this is blog for a very 2/3 years now, and I have seen the level hostility directed at you by the likes of Bigwowo, ChineseMom and other Asians. Here is my question, why do you continue to subject yourself to such hostility and anti blackness?

  44. Rabab is here! With an SJW charge of anti-blackness! (against me, ChineseMom, and “other Asians” of course)

    Snoopy, what did I tell you about our “diversity”? And here you’re always saying everyone here thinks the same!

  45. Bigwowo… I supppose asserting that black people should me more like Asians is a form of anti blackness. I am sure if I were to say, Asians should be more like Africans, I am sure you and others in this site would be find my comment offensive. Anyways, I really couldnt careless about your character assassination, so I will i’ll pass on trying to engage you. My question is directed at Snoopy.

  46. rabab:

    I am sure if I were to say, Asians should be more like Africans, I am sure you and others in this site would be find my comment offensive.

    Well, we have said that African Americans should learn from Africans. And we’ve said that Asians should learn from African Americans. There wasn’t as much to say about Asians being like Africans, since the immigrant culture at least is already so similar. But I’m pretty sure that even if you said something along those lines that I wouldn’t find it offensive.

    I too am interested in what Snoopy might say, but do you see the problem with having a hair-trigger sensitivity? It gets in the way of learning from other people.

  47. You assert ”here wasn’t as much to say about Asians being like Africans, since the immigrant culture at least is already so similar”

    How exactly is my Afro (black) Arab ( or African) immigrant culture similar to the your immigrant culture? My culture as an immigrant is nothing like the Asian immigrant. I actually find this assertion rather offensive. Just because two separate race of people live in the same country as immigrant does not mean that we share similar immigrant culture. My experience as a immigrant to a lesser extent is similar to that of the African American experience than to the Asian immigrant experience.

    My immigrant culture is similar to a Nigerian immigrant culture than to Asian immigrant.

    ”do you see the problem with having a hair-trigger sensitivity? It gets in the way of learning from other people.”

    Here we go again with words like hair trigger sensitivity to undermine me. Please tell how does one learn from a paternalistic racist?

  48. You need not worry, I promise after Snoopy respond, I promise to never visit or comment on your blog ever again. I really want to see Snoopy’s response.

    @ Snoopy, I really dont know how you handle dealing with ChineseMom’s comments.

  49. Rabab:

    You’re totally welcome to respond. I am not offended at all. Nor do I look to offend you or anyone else. It’s all cool. But do you understand what I’m saying when it comes to getting offended? I actually respect Snoopy a lot because even though he comes from that Far Left background, he’s able to face exposure to different ideas better than most from that background, even if he’s unable to assimilate them into his own thinking, even if he refuses to listen. I’m sensing your anger, and I’m not trying to anger you. But how can people have conversations if one party is always getting angry and storming out of the room?

    How exactly is my Afro (black) Arab ( or African) immigrant culture similar to the your immigrant culture? My culture as an immigrant is nothing like the Asian immigrant. I actually find this assertion rather offensive.

    Again, I’m not looking to offend, but if it’s black Caribbean culture, we did an entire podcast on it:

    http://www.bigwowo.com/2013/07/back-to-the-motherland-podcast/

    If it’s Nigerian culture, check out the comment section of the post I just linked above:

    http://www.bigwowo.com/2012/10/why-doesnt-the-naacp-claim-nigerian-immigrants/#comment-37247

    Again, no offense intended. These are issues that we’ve thought through for many years.

  50. Rabab, thank you for the question. In the short form, I comment on this site because I believe that bigotry should not go unchallenged. It’s clear to me that there are as many perspectives on race, gender, diversity, feminism, and the immigrant experience to be found here as there are participants in these conversations. Still, a virulent strain of anti-feminist, anti-modern social justice antagonism fills these conversations. I stand opposed to such views.

    It is easy to remain liberal when confrontation with conservative ideas rarely occurs. It is something else entirely to engage race conservatives — many of whom regard my humanity as inconclusive, not self-evident — as human beings who as such may withstand effective counter argument. What should be remembered about race conservative spaces like this site is that the people who engage in dismissive, often inflammatory dogma about Asian American feminists or Black race consciousness emerge from non-European, non-Western backgrounds and face massive race discrimination in the United States.

    One of the most difficult elements of modern anti-racist activism is that people of color, no matter their origins, are expected to express solidarity with whatever anti-racist activity leaders present. Race conservatives within communities of color reject this knee-jerk allyship, and it’s important for people of goodwill to understand why, and to challenge bigotry in communities of color where it emerges.

    BigWOWO and I disagree on a great many things, but I believe we share a commitment to truth and reasoned thought. Obviously many of the other commenters on this site do not share such lofty ideals, and he allows their unfortunate perspectives airtime. I absorb their hate because my presence makes it impossible for them to misuse this site as a safe space for bigotry alone. My ability to rhetorically dismantle their ill-reasoned opinions makes it less likely that those antagonists will return with sexist dismissals of the feminists in their community in the future.

    I do not write here to convince my antagonists of anything. I write here for people who may only read here, who deserve a debate between Asian American race conservatives and those who they denigrate.

    Like I wrote earlier in this thread, diversity happens when I show up. I continue to believe that this diversity is a general positive. Thank you again for your question, Rabab.

  51. Snoopy may be the diversity, but his ultimate end point is the conformity. He may stand up for the marginalized, a good thing, but his end point is reordering the marginalization.

  52. Jman, no one has asked you to conform to anything, nor have I expressed any desire to ‘reorder the marginalized’ in some ‘last shall be first’ social revolution.

    It is possible to examine individual interactions with systems of oppression without requiring any revenge narrative to provide motivation.

  53. The same thing I’ve been doing on this site for a while: offer a different opinion.

    It is not my job to change anyone’s mind here. That’s not possible. What I do is provide an alternative viewpoint, one based in conceptions of the good that do not only benefit people like myself. It’s an example regressive conservatives and traditionalists should heed.

  54. Snoopy,

    I agree that what jman is saying.

    You wrote:

    BigWOWO and I disagree on a great many things, but I believe we share a commitment to truth and reasoned thought.

    I actually do agree with you here, but I also think that there’s a clear difference between you and me. I’m looking for truth. You believe that you’ve already found it. Your “reasoning” aims to justify the conclusion that you’ve already chosen, whereas I’m working from the other direction–using reason to FIND, rather than justify, “truth.” (I put it in quotes because I think your conclusion was wrong to begin with). That’s what jman is talking about when he says that your end goal is conformity.

    I’ve also respected your passion and loyalty to your base. But ultimately, if you’re wrong, and logic and fact do seem to indicate that you are wrong on many counts, it could wind up hurting your base.

  55. BigWOWO,

    The difficulty with the assertion that my politics require conformity involves its complete lack of empirical support. In no sense do my politics require conformity from anyone. I don’t expect people here to agree with my stances on American domestic policy, or even the normative legal and customary treatment of marginalized populations. But when folk here promote regressive perspectives about marginalized communities, when people here rehash false narratives about those who benefit from the social safety net, when people here presume that Confucian ideals and Tiger parenting prove necessary to save Black Americans from themselves, I speak against that race conservatism.

    I know you all will not agree. But I eviscerate your weak arguments easily, and many of you become frustrated. That’s why the conformity accusations emerge —
    many people here expect that my arguments conform to standard liberalism, learn that they do not, realize I have a point, and then become dismayed because they must rethink their fervently held conservative beliefs, an action they do not wish to undertake.

    Asian Americans benefit from affirmative action, and affirmative action pushed far more White women through selective American colleges and universities than Black people. Still, Asian American affirmative action opponents suggest that this single social policy prevents their children from entering the nation’s top higher learning institutions in the numbers they should enjoy.

    Clearly, these opponents overlook legacy admissions, non-academic matriculation, development issues, and a host of other concerns that encourage selective colleges and universities to admit students based on factors other than standardized test scores and grade point averages. These opponents also view affirmative action as a policy designed to benefit Black Americans exclusively, and they respond to Black Americans as if we are naturally less entitled to the potential for upward mobility that higher education provides.

    I take issue with such framing, and am willing to confront conservative Asian Americans about their views. None of this asks conservative Asian Americans to change their minds. Rather, my interactions illustrate for these people the human costs associated with their position, so that they do not forget or ignore the consequences of their political positions. To suggest that this illustrates a desire for conformity is absurd. I’m just not willing to allow anti-Blackness to go unchallenged, even when expressed by other people of color.

  56. Snoopy…

    Thank you for that response. I wish I could say more but my limited English written skills prevent me from doing so and I dont want it to what people use to attack me. I wish I could communicate my thought in Arabic or Nubian lol.. I have enjoyed reading your argument and responses to the anti blackness that this site often endorses. I also use your argument in response to anti blackness in my Arab community from Caucasian Arabs. Thanks. xxx

  57. So do you want to persuade conservative Asians or do you just want to be a passive aggressive agitator? There is just too much self tension in your writing and logic. You write you don’t want X, while every thing read in-between the lines say you do. Do you write to persuade or write to be a self-sabotaging martyr?

  58. Jman,

    As far as his online activities, I think Snoopy’s goal is to form communities with guys like rabab who like turning everything into a race issue. I would point out one thing though. He’s not really self-sabotaging; upper-middle class Black liberals will do fine. Far Left Liberals control the education system in this country. On my Facebook page, I can see college professors reveling in how they “took down” their STUDENTS by giving them bad grades for “MRA” opinions or other opinions that go against dogma. (I just think it’s really sad how professors see their own students as the enemy.) The more Snoopy encourages this kind of behavior, the more people of his religion will be empowered to force their views on others. If you look at this last few years, among the Leftists, even Obama and Bloomberg are considered “conservatives” these days.

    So he’s not sabotaging himself.

    But yes, he’s sabotaging the lives of poor Black people, people with whom he has little to no contact. It’s so ironic that the ones accused of “anti-Blackness” on this site are the ones who have spent the most time volunteering and giving in those communities. Poor Black people are the ones who would benefit from equality and the proliferation of ideas regarding strong two-parent families and educational advantages. But as the Liberals continue to attack common sense and equality, those poor people will continue to be sacrificed on the altar of what is certainly one of the most powerful and destructive religions in the country today.

  59. Another question I have what is blackness and what is antblackness? Does this have anything to do with the original question about what it means to be Chinese? If one cannot question ones Chinese heritage, does this hold true for blackness or are these mostly independent concepts?

  60. That’s actually a really good question.

    If “blackness” refers to the race of black people, then there is NO reason at all that anyone here should be accused of being anti-black.

    If liberals are defining “blackness” to mean a culture based on the shirking of personal responsibility, the belief that people of a certain race should be free to commit crime because of their race, the perpetuation of universal black victimhood, and that belief that certain races are above others just because, then yes, most people here are against that. I think that’s a ridiculous way to define blackness, since most black people aren’t like that. If that’s what we’re talking about, then obviously we’re all against that. But I would fight tooth-and-nail to oppose that definition. The term “anti-Extremist” is far more accurate, since most people here believe in equality.

  61. How do you know he has little contact with poor black people? There is no way you could possible know that he has little contact with poor black people. This classic example of an individual projecting their own state of mind onto other people.

    You assert ”It’s so ironic that the ones accused of “anti-Blackness” on this site are the ones who have spent the most time volunteering and giving in those communities” Give me a break. This seemed to be the response of every anti black individuals online. The people who are volunteering in poor black communities are black people themselves. Considering the paternalistic attitude most of you have shown in this site toward black Americans, I cant imagine anyone of you ever volunteering in poor black communities.

    Now you are not saying all of this in the interest of truth. And nothing you are saying here is motivated by concern for the African American people. You are looking down on African Americans and you are being a bigot. The inquiry that I ultimately want to put forth is why should blacks seek the approval of Asians and whites? I mean, what sort of ludicrous narcissism is it that whites believe all ethnic groups must have THEIR sanction to well, what, succeed? To this point, it has been futile to pursue that acceptance.

    Lets be honest, you dont care about poor black communities, and not in your argument suggest that you either.

  62. Rabab:

    How do you know he has little contact with poor black people? There is no way you could possible know that he has little contact with poor black people. This classic example of an individual projecting their own state of mind onto other people.

    We’ve asked him about volunteering. It’s not projection; it’s asking.

    The people who are volunteering in poor black communities are black people themselves.

    Well, it may be true that some black people volunteer, or many black people volunteer, but it’s also true that lots of non-Black people volunteer. LOTS. I’m one of them (not so much these days since I’ve had other priorities), as is ChineseMom, as is Aardvark. But let’s get real–you KNOW lots of non-Black people volunteer in Black communities. Go to any inner city neighborhood, and you’ll see lots of non-Black people volunteering. If you’re going to portray non-Black people as universally uncaring and hateful towards Black people, that’s just not accurate.

    For the record, I don’t think you need the approval or Whites or Asians. But if the actions of certain members of certain Black communities affect me–if you’re asking to UN-level the playing field so that I face discrimination in college admissions, or certain people from certain Black communities are targeting people of mine for murder, rape, robbery, and violence, or if they’re writing lyrics about committing home invasions against Asians, or if you’re asking me for my tax dollars for your benefit, then I only think it’s fair that we have a dialogue. Taking away my money or my equal rights SHOULD require my approval, and taking my life or livelihood SHOULD be met with my resistance–that’s what makes me human. I’m not saying that you need to agree with me on every opinion I have, but since we live in the same society, I think it’s only fair to have a dialogue–without mindless shrieking or demands for safe spaces.

    Also for the record, ChineseMom supports affirmative action, regardless of whatever stereotypes people hold about Chinese immigrants. I’ll say the same thing to you as I said to Snoopy about ChineseMom. I think you’ve got a great opportunity here to hear from someone who will tell it like it is.

  63. Your people? A couple of sense comment ago you talked about people like me making everything about race. Goodness, you are an hypocrite.

    I know that non black people do volunteer in black communities. Also know that the vast majority of the non black people who do so have paternalistic attitude, similar to the non black people who come to my continent to volunteer. Similar attitude to the one people like you and Chinesemom have displayed here for years. I dont believe you have volunteered in poor black communities or even spend time with blacks.

  64. How about this, focus on your communities and let African people focus on our people. Please if you volunteer in poor black communities, let stop doing so and also ask other Asians with similar views as yours to stop doing the same. We as African people have already been through alot in this world, and have over come them without help from other people. I certain do not want someone who thinks of himself as socially and morally superior to black people volunteering in any black community in the world

  65. ”I’ve noticed a trend of Asian American rightwingers tossing about terms like “White liberals” and “White Liberalism” and tying those terms to Black people. Those comments are often dripping with scorn for those “White Liberals” and the Black people with whom they are allegedly allied. That trend is both fascinating and deceptive. In reality, the subjects of their ire are the masses of ordinary Black people. Cloaking their anti-Black animus in scorn for “Liberalism” (or any diversionary label) is a very old and time-tested technique of using coded language.
    From the perspective of many Black people, there is no appreciable difference in “White Liberals” and “White Conservatives”. Both groups are White Supremacist to the core and mistrusted by most Black people.
    The only difference I have noticed over the years is the insistence of White Conservatives for control and the insistence of White Liberals for centrality. In other words, many White conservatives want to control everyone around them politically, economically and culturally. Many White liberals on the other hand, feel that their thoughts, feelings and concerns should be central to everyone around them, otherwise a “fragility attack” will ensue. Those differences are of little concern for groups straining for White/European inclusion and acceptance.
    Bashing Black people and their imagined allies is the real goal here.
    Stepping on Black people to achieve Whiteness also has a long and vaunted history in America…as does attempting to gaslight Black people into ignoring the sensation of boots on their backs.”’ Afrofem..

  66. Snoopy… It has been a pleasure to read your argument.. This is my last comment here. bye. Please come to abagond,,,

  67. Rabab,

    The argument that I have little contact with the Black poor, or that I fail to appreciate the social and economic concerns of the Black poor, has always been false, misleading, and specious. Further, the assumption that my perspectives lack validity because I do not speak for the Black poor also lacks validity. But you clearly notice the problem with that argument: to discredit my perspectives, people here often assert material support for poor Black communities, while they associate those communities with a criminality and want that threatens their safety.

    As BigWOWO well understands, liberals and conservatives alike have characterized Blackness as indifferent to personal responsibility, supportive of criminal behavior, preoccupied with victimhood, and dependent on antiquated and false race hierarchy theories. These people have always been mistaken, and the stereotypes they attribute to Blackness and Black people explain much more about these speakers’ biases that Black Americans, in whole or in part.

    Let’s be clear: it is easier to maintain a conservative assault on affirmative action when one believes in the intellectual inferiority of its beneficiaries. Such ideology cannot hold coherence in this society against affirmative action’s major beneficiaries — White women, but Americans have long employed myths of Black intellectual inferiority to justify harm against Black people. Chattel slavery justifications often employed the childlike Sambo trope to convince religious Whites that Black men and women lacked the cognitive ability to exist in mainstream American society unsupervised.

    The only interesting difference here is that we find similar Black intellectual inferiority tropes utilized by people of color who themselves face serious race discrimination in American society. But we should be clear — most Asian Americans support affirmative action, and most Asian Americans are not conservative. Asian Americans with more historical knowledge of their people’s experiences within the American context rarely express support for affirmative action opposition; it’s difficult to appreciate Asian American Studies and fail to notice the parallels between race discrimination levied against Asian Americans and race discrimination levied against Black Americans.

    Many wealthy immigrant Chinese who relocate to the United States in the last fifteen to twenty years lack such history, and their politics reflect this ignorance. The meaningful point is that the anti-Blackness you find on this site does not reflect mainstream thinking in Asian America on Black people or Black culture. This is a minority space where reactionary voices congregate after facing ostracism from Asian Americans for needless conservative vitriol against other people of color.

    Jman asked my purpose here. My purpose is simple — to offer differing perspectives who those who recoil from human difference. I do not expect people to change their minds after we converse. Rather, I expect people to recognize a superior argument when they encounter one, and frankly, I know my arguments are better than theirs. So Rabab, keep fighting the good fight, and thank you for reading.

  68. Y’all just saw what happened. Let me summarize:

    Rabab: We’re totally self-sufficient. We do everything without Whitey and Chang!

    WOWO: But Whitey and Chang do volunteer in Black neighborhoods. You know that.

    Rabab: Of course I know that, you racist! You Changs and Whiteys stay out of our neighborhoods! Stay out of our business too! We all know you’ve got bad intentions, so stay out!

    WOWO: That’s fine, but if certain Black activities by certain Black people affects our people…

    Rabab: You just said “our people?” What is that? Turning everything into a race issue! Hypocrite! I’m getting out of here. Snoopy, meet me on abagond. But only you! Whitey and Chang, stay off abagond too!

    Snoopy:

    As BigWOWO well understands, liberals and conservatives alike have characterized Blackness as indifferent to personal responsibility, supportive of criminal behavior, preoccupied with victimhood, and dependent on antiquated and false race hierarchy theories. These people have always been mistaken, and the stereotypes they attribute to Blackness and Black people explain much more about these speakers’ biases that Black Americans, in whole or in part.

    I understand this and agree with this. But I also understand that that is how YOU are characterizing Blackness right now. Everyone here is saying that everyone should be equal, and you’re bringing up the stereotypes. I mean, really, that’s your first response in affirmative action. You don’t talk about yourself; you talk about the inner city Black people in whose schools you’ve never volunteered.

    We’ve talked about this before, even upthread. Everyone here says that Blackness is a race and that all races are equal. You’re the lone dissenter who seems to disagree.

    But we should be clear — most Asian Americans support affirmative action, and most Asian Americans are not conservative.

    No. There is no proof of that at all, other than the dishonest survey that Libs love to quote.

    http://www.bigwowo.com/2014/08/national-asian-american-surveys-misleading-survey-on-affirmative-action/

  69. “I understand this and agree with this. But I also understand that that is how YOU are characterizing Blackness right now.” — BigWOWO

    Not really, no. I paraphrased your statement above. When I wrote …

    “As BigWOWO well understands, liberals and conservatives alike have characterized Blackness as indifferent to personal responsibility, supportive of criminal behavior, preoccupied with victimhood, and dependent on antiquated and false race hierarchy theories. These people have always been mistaken, and the stereotypes they attribute to Blackness and Black people explain much more about these speakers’ biases that Black Americans, in whole or in part.” — Snoopy Jenkins

    … I paraphrased you, after you wrote earlier:

    “If liberals are defining “blackness” to mean a culture based on the shirking of personal responsibility, the belief that people of a certain race should be free to commit crime because of their race, the perpetuation of universal black victimhood, and that belief that certain races are above others just because, then yes, most people here are against that. I think that’s a ridiculous way to define blackness, since most black people aren’t like that.” — BigWOWO

    We agree that it’s a ridiculous way to define Blackness, but you brought these stereotypes into conversation, BigWOWO. Further, as anyone can view upthread (or in several conversations on this blog) some participants in conversations here clearly operate with these stereotypes in mind when they discuss political issues that they believe interest Black Americans. I respect that class differences make race solidarity difficult in every community, but your perceptions about my personal and familial wealth (fantastic though they may be) do not allow you and other participants in these conversations to ignore my perspectives as insufficiently interested in poor Blacks.

    It’s the insistence on discussion of poor Blacks that colors these conversations as largely hostile to Black Americans. No other group in American society must have their poorest members front and center when discussing public policy that affects their whole in every circumstance; no one speaks about inner city Chinese immigrants who toil in illegal sweatshops when we have affirmative action debates. In those moments, it’s always the suburban Chinese American people consider first.

    This rankles because my interests in cosmopolitan multiculturalism are always viewed on this site as liberalism run amok, and indifferent to the ‘real Blacks’ who suffer systemic poverty amid urban blight. BigWOWO, when you suggest that my positions are unworkable or misaligned because they (in your eyes) do not apply easily to poor Blacks, you essentialize the Black experience into one characterized by all the negative phenomena you list above.

    The main point is that the sort of culture policing that ChineseMom enjoys in her community, where she wishes to define who is and who is not sufficiently Chinese, is something you emulate in reference to Black Americans. You suggest that because you find my perspectives insufficiently interested in poor Blacks and because I don’t spend most of my spare time volunteering in low income Black neighborhoods that I lack knowledge about my own people.

    The subtext is clear: just as ChineseMom suggests that my wife is “less Chinese”, your insistence on the poor Black experience (one you insist I do not and cannot know) leaves the implication that I’m “less Black” than the authentic Negroes who suffer unrelenting poverty and crime in American inner cities. Your methods enjoy a rhetorical subtlety that ChineseMom’s gaudy insults lack, but the thesis remains clear, though I choose to assume that you do not engage such thinking with malicious intent, as ChineseMom does against Reappropriate.

    Rather, I think you, like many non-Black Americans, find it easier to view Black Americans as an ever-desperate, ever-wanting monolith, and use your reason to override such stereotype-laden sociology. No, this isn’t personal; rather, this illustrates in a different form why assertions of ethnic and ethno-national borders strike me as both odd and unhelpful. When we allow members of our identity groups to define other people’s cultural connectivity within our communities, we offer these inappropriate tools to others, and none of that ends well.

  70. So Snoopy, you have the superior reason and logic, but you don’t care to change anyone’s mind. You critizes other people’s concept of blackness, even though you make no attempt to bring forth any sort of concept about what it is. You call other people bigots, while classifying others as regressive. You spend a lot of time complaining that you are mischaracterized, while at the same time trying to say what others think. You spend too much time on tangential ideas, but when asked about essential ideas you are quiet.

    This reminds me of when someone will say about a teacher that he is really smart but the student get a lot out of it. Many times it is not the case. The teacher doesn’t know what he is talking about. He knows enough stuff to sound knowledgeable, but the one who has mastered it can do a decent job of makiing it reasonable for the learner. Snoopy I don’t know if you really have any sort of clarity about what you really want to argue. Everything seems half thought out. That is just my impression.

  71. Snoopy,

    The main point is that the sort of culture policing that ChineseMom enjoys in her community, where she wishes to define who is and who is not sufficiently Chinese, is something you emulate in reference to Black Americans

    I don’t think culturally you are African although your ancestors came from Africa, neither do I think Obama is Kenyan. I don’t think King is sufficiently Caribbean. Am I a cultural police, do I define any of you or denied your cultural heritages just because I hold these opinions?

    I’m curious why you are so obsessed with people, especially me, accepting Jenn culturally as a full Chinese culturally. Don’t you think you give me too much power over her? I can’t define who is and who is not sufficiently Chinese, everybody defines himself/herself by his/her beliefs, values and deeds, including your wife.

    You expressed how you view us full Chinese earlier:

    Because talking to some people kinda sucks.
    None of us should feel obligated to endure the regressive, backward, ignorant, anti-modern perspectives of people saddled with old-world thinking and ancient paradigms who deputize themselves culture police and deny the shared cultural background of people within their ethnic or ethno-national group

    It is a puzzle to me that despite of all these, you so desperately want your wife to be viewed and accepted as a ” regressive, backward, ignorant, anti-modern perspectives of people saddled with old-world thinking Chinese. Shouldn’t you take it as a compliment when I said that she isn’t a Chinese culturally?

    Also, does Jenn think she is a full Chinese culturally and want to be viewed and accepted as a full Chinese?

    I would like to see your superior arguments on these questions.

  72. ChineseMom,

    I think I can answer that for you.

    It has to do with “feel-good.” If you say that an ethnically Chinese person is less Chinese, it doesn’t make them feel good. If you say that a rich Black person is unfamiliar with the lives of poor Black people, it doesn’t make them feel good. It’s the same logic behind safe spaces; you gotta make liberals feel good. Never mind your feelings; you have to make THEM feel good.

    I may do a blog post on this, but the obvious problem is that real hierarchies exist. Telling someone that they’re lower on the hierarchy of knowledge or experience may hurt their feelings, but it doesn’t make their lack of knowledge or experience any less real. If they refuse to accept the hierarchy, it makes it difficult for them to learn from people who know more.

    This is exactly what I always say that Extreme Liberalism is a religion of emotion.

  73. FYI, I’m not saying this to be rude or dismissive of Snoopy or other liberals. I’m just saying that this is what the problem is. If every topic turns into a personal battle where SJWs are trying to find a way to take everything personally, there ain’t gonna be much learning or exchanging of ideas going on. If people are unable to accept a lower place on the totem pole in the hopes of getting better, there isn’t going to much improvement going on.

    That’s exactly the problem here. Your Chinese is clearly better than Jenn’s. Your Chinese is clearly better than mine. Why wouldn’t it be? I can accept that. Snoopy and Jenn cannot. That is why they find themselves defending a position which is clearly indefensible.

  74. Just a quick heads-up to everyone:

    Rabab is an anti-Asian racist. This became clear on Abagond’s blog when she supported Aaron Mak, an Asian progressive who throws Asians under the bus by trivializing racial violence against the Asian community and supporting Asian quotas at schools. The Far Left, which has adopted Blacks as its poster child for racial oppression, has also made a career out of scapegoating Asians for the Black community’s problems so this should be little surprise.

    The reason Rabab’s “stay out of my community” spiel about anti-Black racism in the Asian community is bogus is because during the Rodney King riots, Blacks travelled multiple blocks just to attack Asian shops that were located nowhere near Black neighborhoods. Also, the irony behind Rabab’s “African immigrants are more similar to Black Americans than Asian immigrants” rhetoric is that even as Blacks have driven Asian shop owners out of their neighborhoods, they’ve merely been replaced by African immigrant shop owners. I would argue that many African immigrants hold more contempt for Black Americans than Asians do so this mentality of blaming Asians is getting old.

  75. It doesn’t surprise me. Abagond used to be a great site, but man, he’s just let the crazies run wild. And he’s become a bit crazy himself. Liberal extremism run wild.

    About what I said above about feel-good. I tried to write another blog post about that. It started heading towards ideas of humility and respect–how it’s impossible to learn without some humility and respect and how extreme liberals had very little respect for other people. But then I realized that liberals do respect people. If we gave bell hooks or Maxine Hong Kingston or DeRay McKesson a platform, they’d prostrate themselves like Bible Thumpers before James Dobson.

    So it’s very much a matter of respect. In terms of the OP, if you want to learn Chinese, you have to become Chinese. But in order to become Chinese, you have to respect Chinese people. You have to respect the Chinese language. You need to believe that there’s wisdom there, and that 4,000 years of culture produced something other than

    “regressive, backward, ignorant, anti-modern perspectives of people saddled with old-world thinking and ancient paradigms who deputize themselves culture police and deny the shared cultural background of people within their ethnic or ethno-national group.”

    That’s probably the point. It’s not humility; most people have some kind of humility. But the respect is misplaced. The same way the Yale Shrieking Girl went off on that White professor, other liberals go off on Chinese immigrants. The respect just isn’t there. I think it was somewhat correct in pointing to “feel-good,” but respect is probably the greater variable here.

  76. To be fair it’s in alphabetical order. I have seen some not so impressive Asian history month posts though. One post years go just got hijacked by the first comment being something like “I have no pity for Asians” and just went down from there. The Aaron Mak one was also not so great.

  77. I should have noticed that, d’oh.

    Still, Amy Tan and no Frank Chin. Not exactly balanced.

  78. BigWOWO, you and others here encourage respect for Chinese people. That is understandable, as is the converse. I take no issue with people who wish to immerse themselves in another culture, to learn a language or engage different perspectives. My concern stems from the easygoing disinterest in respecting people within one’s ethnic or ethno-national group who may lack the cultural or linguistic facilities others possess.

    When Constance Wu spoke out against the commonplace casting of White actors in stories set in historical Asia, her activism generated applause until some questioned her political authenticity. Critics judged her activism — what she thinks — in conflict with her personal life — who she loves — and branded her a counterproductive hypocrite. It was as if Ms. Wu could not simply be Taiwanese American; for some, ethnic authenticity requires life choices that posit culture as a unchanging, static quantity, not as an ever-evolving relational phenomena.

    BigWOWO, when you suggest that being Chinese “most likely it means that you married another Chinese person, because you love the culture in that person and how you interact together with the culture”, you latched onto the cultural justification for the criticism Ms. Wu endured. We should note that this criticism almost always finds female targets; Chinese men who date and/ or marry outside their group rarely face like criticism, if ever. Please note: I do not blame you BigWOWO for the criticism Ms. Wu faced. Rather, I bring up this example to point out culture denial’s political ramifications, along with the gender bias that usually accompanies these critiques.

    The point is that none of us owe people who prefer to insult and demean other people’s connections to their ethnic heritages our respect. I don’t consider all or even most Chinese people guilty of such crazy. But I can think of some. It makes sense to condemn that crazy first, before one castigates liberals like myself for a xenophobic intolerance we do not display.

    Further, recognize that none of this is based on emotional response. None of this need be personal: we were having a meaningful debate before ChineseMom hijacked the thread with personal attacks about my wife and her family. It’s completely out-of-bounds to ignore those attacks and pretend that they belong in civilized discourse but then pretend the that evenhanded critiques of those attacks are worthy of endless can-you-believe-how-disrespectful-and-extreme-liberals-are multiple quoting.

    The problem here, as always, is modernity. Clearly some people take issue with the cosmopolitan multiculturalism of modern America. But if one volunteered for this and left their country of origin to live here, it’s fair to question why one endlessly rejects those who embrace said cosmopolitan multiculturalism, even when they emerge from one’s own ethnic or ethno-national group.

  79. Snoopy,

    You’re confusing two issues. The Constance Wu thread is here. The topic with Constance Wu was activists who don’t practice what they preach. NOBODY accused Constance Wu of not being Taiwanese; people were just pointing out that she wasn’t living the lifestyle she was advocating. That has nothing to do with Jenn and her Chinese. Nobody accused Jenn of not practicing what she preaches.

    The issue with Jenn was that she claimed a skill that she doesn’t have–namely speaking and reading Chinese. The reason we’re discussing it here is because y’all introduced the crazy idea that being racially Chinese means that you automatically understand the language, culture, history, etc, as if Chinese culture was so backward and simple that anyone without history or training or the proper attitude can understand it. I hope you can see how condescending that appears to Chinese immigrants, which is why ChineseMom got upset. I also hope you can see how silly it looks to people who watch monolingual people define and interpret languages they don’t understand.

    Someone said this above–I think it was jman–but this has nothing to do with belittling people. It’s simply something that happens when a person overstates their qualifications. It’s not a big deal.

    I agree think there’s probably an imbalance here. ChineseMom’s culture goes way back 4,000 years, far older than third wave feminism, extreme liberalism, African American culture, Asian American culture, etc. It’s hard for any culture to compare with that. Even American culture itself can’t compete; American culture is less than 300 years old. But why would you or me try to fight against this? It is what it is. You’re trying to crybully an entire culture of people who have been here over ten times longer than your entire country. You’re trying to malign a country that has almost five times as many people. Why even bother?

    I think that’s what I’m saying. You and Jenn are outsiders who are trying to fight against a culture that has been around longer than anything you’re associated with. You’re clearly outsiders–as determined by the fact that you don’t speak or read Chinese. So why not stop being outsiders?

    Seriously, have you ever thought about that? Why not become insiders?

  80. In other words, Snoopy, the normal trend is for the weaker culture (i.e. Asian American culture) to get swallowed up by the stronger culture. I’m not saying for you to be primarily Chinese. But why not take a step in that direction?

  81. The weaker culture is the one that has less staying power. The one that has less power in the media. The one that gets gets less respect. The one that is easily swallowed up because people don’t think it’s as cool or as powerful.

  82. The disconnect here is that I and many others recognize that a culture’s longevity does not allow claims about said culture’s strength or utility. No one need care that Chinese culture has lasted 4,000 years. None of that history should lead reasonable people to conclude that learning about Chinese culture would benefit their own lives.

    None of that history should lead reasonable people to conclude that Chinese culture is somehow stronger or more worthy of respect and adoration than any other culture. The very idea of a ‘stronger’ or ‘weaker’ culture is quite absurd.

  83. I think you are correct in saying that you cannot conclude due to longevity that it is stronger, more worthy of respect, or adoration. Longevity is more of a heuristic indicating that it has a lot of mechanisms in place to deal with maintaining a strong culture and dealing with inevitable conflicts. While not proving its effectiveness, it is a better indicator than theorizing about it. The term coined is the Lindy Effect, that the survival is implied a longer life expectancy. I know you probably will just dismiss it, but I don’t.

  84. Byron,

    The issue with Jenn was that she claimed a skill that she doesn’t have–namely speaking and reading Chinese.

    I think you made a mistake here. Jenn clear stated that she can’t read Chinese both at your site and at her blog(http://www.bigwowo.com/2014/08/what-if-affirmative-action-were-voluntary/#comment-269132, http://reappropriate.co/2014/03/efforts-to-repeal-prop-209-halted-voters-will-not-vote-on-sca5-this-november-sca5-edu4all/). If my memory serves me right, I think she also said at here that she doesn’t speak Mandarin nor Cantonese.

    The problem with her is that she has zero language ability to know what’s going on in Chinese immigrants community, so she just made up lies about what happened in the community and attacked those who were against SCA5 as haters, liars and misinformed. She falsely claimed that ” misleading statements first spread by Chinese-language ethnic news media and conservative PACs”. When I asked her to present evidence to back up this claim, she couldn’t. When cornered, she just made up new lies by saying that:

    Search “SCA5 and World Journal”. I found 5 articles, two are op-eds. The rest spread are either clear evidence of one-sided reporting and even rely on some of the misinformation myths in my myths post, including one that has the Google translated headline “Sca5 racist” and “Prop 209 no benefit Asians”. Unfortunately, their site is really screwed up when it interacts with Google Translate, so when I try to link it I just get a link to a webad.

    I presented a paragraph from Silicon India because it is written in English, so I don’t need to rely on Google Translate, which when quoted sounds terrible.

    It sounds to me like you’re being deliberately obtuse on this subject, since World Journal is one of the most popular Chinese language sites on the web. A 2 second google search pulls up several articles, but because *I* need to rely on problematic translation services that messes the website up, and you don’t, and I won’t link you to things I can’t read, you’re going to pretend they don’t exist. Even though the five articles I pulled up are all dated to the mid February, are all one-sided reports, and all appear in a reputable ethnic media outlet that many Chinese Americans use as their primary, and often objective, source for news.

  85. And because one sentence I said in the comment below, she accused me of insulting her parents. She later claimed in other places that I said her parents raised her poorly and should be ashamed of is totally false. Our exchanges are still on her blog.

    Jenn, your open letter to Chinese Americans and things you did in this matter make me feel sad for you, those second generations like you and our community. You claimed that you love Chinese Americans and are proud to be one, but your action tell me the opposite.
    The load of BS (sorry to use this strong word) you posted here and your twitter account tell me how much you have lost in touch with Chinese community. It seems that you don’t even have ONE Chinese friend to tell you what’s going on in Chinese community, and you surely didn’t bother to make an effort to get basic facts right before launching the attack . Everything you argued about is based on the assumption that we are stupid, selfish, easily being mislead and can’t have our own informed judgement. May be your parents are like that, but we are not!!!!
    http://reappropriate.co/2014/03/efforts-to-repeal-prop-209-halted-voters-will-not-vote-on-sca5-this-november-sca5-edu4all/

  86. Millions native born Americans, including Byron and King at this site are against Affirmative Action, Jenn and her SJW friends dare not accuse them as “haters”, “liars” or “misinformed”, but somehow they considered Chinese immigrants, Chinese American organizations and Chinese-language media who hold the same opinions and arguments as “haters”, “liars” or “misinformed” without even being able to or bothered to provide a shred of evidence. This clearly tells me their attitude and opinions about FOB immigrants.

  87. jman:

    Snoopy doesn’t believe in the idea of a stronger or weaker culture because he comes from one of the dominant cultures on the world stage today. If he were in contact or respected some cultures that are dying, he’d feel differently. But I think you’re doing the right thing by bringing up the Lindy effect. Even if Snoopy dismisses experts who study longevity, at least it’s here for him to see.

    ChineseMom:

    The arguments got really ridiculous really quickly, so I think I should be forgiven if I’ve forgotten details. Snoopy has made the point here that we don’t know anything about her ability with the language, which would imply that she has some ability with the language. I’m sure she said something similar, which is why I’ve forgotten certain details.

    I feel like I’m at the end of my rope in trying to convince the Far Left that their way of going about things is completely wrong. They already know that it’s factually wrong; I’m trying to convince them that it’s also morally wrong, as well as destructive –not just to innocent people, but to their own understanding of the world as well. But I’ve completely failed to convince them of this. I wonder if anyone can.

  88. ChineseMom,

    I’ve been called “misinformed” before, also without a shred of evidence.

    But yes, I see what you’re saying. Part of it probably has to do with the fact that moderates like myself and King are the largest voting block in this country. It’s easy to call immigrants “liars” and “haters” because they don’t have the ability to fight back. It’s much harder to do that to the largest voting block in the country. Actually, that is kind of what the liberals did to moderates when they started the habit of pushing fake news–and in doing so, they elected Donald Trump as president.

  89. bigWOWO said:

    It doesn’t surprise me. Abagond used to be a great site, but man, he’s just let the crazies run wild. And he’s become a bit crazy himself. Liberal extremism run wild.

    To Abagond’s credit, Rabab constantly made a fool of herself on his blog by repeatedly violating his comment policy, to the point where he deleted her posts and told her off. Arrogant as ever, Rabab vowed to stop commenting instead of apologizing. She is still commenting.

    I agree that Abagond used to be great. That’s why I used to hang out so often on his blog. He was more balanced several years back but now he’s become little more than a self-interested extremist. He usually does a great job of sticking up for other people of color who are not Black but I’ve started to notice that maybe he’s just using them as his pawns. He supported SCA5 and attacked the protestors who called out the racial bias in Peter Liang’s indictment but he expects Asian support for Black Lives Matter to be a given. I can’t speak for King, but I suspect these kinds of things to be among the reasons he also left the blog.

    I think the reason Asians tend not to be as politically vocal or active (insofar as that stereotype holds any truth) is not because Asians have smaller problems than other races (which is false, anyway) but because social justice activism is so heavily dominated by non-Asians that Asians constantly find themselves having to support other races while everyone else either ignores or attacks Asians.

  90. Those were indeed the kind of reasons why I left.
    But also things like

    1. Blacks can’t be racist because racism can only be defined as a huge social institution. If a Black man simply hates people just based on skin color, he is not a racist. I thoroughly reject this idea.

    2. A Stasi-like system of self-policing in which everyone’s credibility is constantly questioned if they disagree with the common assumptions of SJW worldview. Anyone can be a “traitor” if they start asking too many questions or have differing opinions.

    3. A long but steady reduction of voices with differing views, through scapegoating and broad-brushing and ridicule. One by one, voices of reason kept vanishing until it has become small group of people who all think very much alike, (save one or two polarizing gadflies.)

    4. Inconsistency: Like condemning statements like “Black people stink.” Yet defending statements like, “White people stink” by explaining that he didn’t say ALL White people!!!

  91. I wasn’t around to see the implosion, but I just cracked up when I read King’s post, especially the part about the inconsistencies! Again, I wasn’t there, but isn’t that the case with so many of these SJW sites? It’s like a pure emotional play where SJWs sound off on those who think differently, conveniently ignoring the inconsistencies, double-standards, and personal attacks that they themselves commit when faced with people who aren’t on the Far Left.

  92. That’s why I always say racism comes down to power. Power is about maximizing your own interest while minimizing everyone else’s. SJWs have merely flipped around the oppressor/oppressed dynamic to suit their own interests. E.g.: 9/11 was justified because the attackers were “punching up”.

  93. To view social justice as simply another method to maximize self-interest misses the entire point of social justice activism. It betrays a skewed misunderstanding of the aims of and debates within social justice movements.

    For example, no one on the social justice Left with any reason or respectability justifies the 9-11 attacks for any reason. It just doesn’t happens. The wanton and indifferent murder of thousands of American citizens is not social justice, it’s just terrorism. Social justice activists oppose terrorism in all its forms.

  94. To view social justice as simply another method to maximize self-interest misses the entire point of social justice activism. It betrays a skewed misunderstanding of the aims of and debates within social justice movements.

    For example, no one on the social justice Left with any reason or respectability justifies the 9-11 attacks for any reason. It just doesn’t happen. The wanton and indifferent murder of thousands of American citizens is not social justice, it’s just terrorism. Social justice activists oppose terrorism in all its forms.

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