Bao's weblog


Meandering thoughts of a Bay Area college student… be prepared for some bipolar vocabulary

Okay, I’m going to go through this again I suppose

Class for me begins at 9 tomorrow, and I plan on leaving the house at 8. Damn, I must be insane for staying up, but such are the woes of an American college teenager!

Pretty long rant below. Damn, have you been warned.

For some reason, I went on Youtube to search for video footage of people celebrating Sept. 11, 2001. I was pretty confused because the numbers of videos that turned up were far fewer than what I had expected. True, it’s not like I searched really hard and since Youtube is an American website, there probably aren’t too many people around who enjoy posting this kind of stuff. I saw a promising video and clicked it. And for the first time in many, many years, I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

As touching as that video was, my thirst for anti-American sentiments and hatred went unsatiated. So I went to Google and searched, “What do people around the world think of America?” I was looking for fat, arrogant, ignorant, spoiled, Christian fundamentalists, and perhaps uneducated. Why?

I remembered meeting a foreign exchange student at my college. I asked him if he liked the United States. He said yes. Then I asked him if his friends from back home agreed.

And of course they didn’t.

“Why not?” I asked. Indeed, it was because they saw us as fat, arrogant, ignorant, uneducated, Christian fundamentalists, and uneducated (yes, I said uneducated twice). Here’s the kicker. I’m the skinniest kid you will ever see. I’m apparently considered slightly skinnier than usual in Vietnam. Yes, the third world country Vietnam. Okay, I’m a little proud/arrogant. I don’t think I’m uneducated. I’m a Christian, but not a fundamentalist. I told him all of that and playfully suggested that I should meet them.

“Oh, you don’t count!” he said.

“Really? Uh, why not?” I inquired.

“Because you’re Asian. They won’t consider you as an American,” was his retort.

We exchanged jokes and separated. I didn’t give our exchange a second thought until tonight. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to process thoughts as a hail of Wait what the fucks are distracting me. Wait, so… why the hell wouldn’t I be considered an American to his friends? I have a U.S. passport. I have a fucking U.S. flag folded neatly (and correctly) in my room, waiting for me to take it to college so I can piss off people. I sometimes even get chills listening to the national anthem. All of my friends know I’m a die-hard American.

I wonder if people realize that the face of America isn’t Caucasian anymore. America has a huge ass wealth of diversity and it’s all of us put together, with our different backgrounds, cultures, and ways of thinking, that makes the U.S. the country it is today.

Yet, doesn’t this make the amount of racism, stereotypes, and xenophobia in the U.S. incredibly ironic? Of course, living here in the Bay Area is like living in a bubble from what I’ve heard. San Jose, California holds one of the top rankings for the most ethnic cities on the international scale. I suppose I’m somewhat grateful to be shielded from words such as sand nigger or chink, saving me the trouble of telling them that I’m Vietnamese. And I’m American. But on the other hand, I kinda want to see how it feels and how I’d react. Would I laugh it off? Throw a punch? Perhaps both at once?

I wish I had some cold, hard statistics on what we Americans think of each other, of immigrants, and of the outside world. But that would be impossible right? Won’t people lie? We should get our acts together for the world to see us.

That brings me back to the question of why I want to search for the rest of the world stereotyping us Americans. Why do they hate us? In the end, every country has its share of skinny and fat people, educated and uneducated, and for the most part, a large variety of religions. Why does it have to be us who takes this kind of scorn?

My hypothesis? Foreign policy and media. Headlines I’ve read in the past fly through my mind. “Okinawan Protesters Cover New American Fence With  Anti-Base Banners.” “Muslims Celebrate 9/11.” It’s pretty interesting how our politicians acting on our behalf abroad… you know. Somehow they represent us as… uneducated? Ignorant? How? For the most part our politicians are very articulate and definitely educated and aware of the rest of the world.

And the media, of course. How come whenever our news media talk about a random country, they almost always begin with the phrase, “In a move that may affect U.S. interests…” How does that represent us?

It’s probably because we have people everywhere. We have military assets, media coverage, etc. in everywhere from Japan to Norway. Ask one of them about what they think of us and you’ll get an answer. If you ask a random American what he/she thinks of Norwegians, you might get a blank stare or maybe an apathetic Who the hell cares?

My head is spinning. Must be from the sleep deprivation OH SHIIIIT look at the fucking time!

(Note: What happened in Oslo, Norway was unfortunate, unfair, and definitely uncalled for and my heart goes out to you guys. But just to be clear, this post was published over a month before the attack occurred. It’s just a terrible coincidence. Please know that our country DOES care about what happened to the seven dead and I personally wish the families the smoothest possible recoveries. Just putting this out there before someone finds this post and leaves a mean comment before looking at the date, which is in very fine print…)


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