SE Asia

My name’s Demi. My ethnic origins are mixed in unknown ratios of Chinese, Lao and Thai. I grew up in Bangkok, Thailand and never even moved from the street I lived on all my life before leaving to attend university in San Diego, CA. It was a big, big move (geographically speaking) but I didn’t feel any culture shock and was happy to be turning a new leaf. My school is wonderful and I have always been eager to begin an independent adult life; I love my country but the societal conventions were far too conservative for me. I love hard rock, metal, yoga asana, philosophy and lifestyle, hardcore fitness conditioning, animal welfare and I am loud about my feminism and socio-political beliefs. I thought that once I moved to the US, the land of liberty and freedom, I would be better received. WRONG. I have met amazing people here who support my journey and I am eternally grateful for them, but I’ve also met people that tried even more than those back home to shoehorn me into boxes that ascribe to their narrow world views.

I’ve been told  that I’m “surprising”, at best, and “exotic”, and other similar things, at worst. These pinks don’t understand how my English got better than theirs with my voracious appetite for books and my international education. They don’t understand why it isn’t a compliment to repeatedly call me “their Asian princess”. They don’t understand why it makes me blood boil to hear “Oh, Thailand! Yeah, I saw the Hangover II…” or “My last girlfriend was Japanese/Chinese/Korean/Philippine/InsertAsianNationalityHere” or “You’re into weightlifting/metal? But you’re Asian!” or any and all kinds of stereotypes of us. Especially ones that imply that we glorify and seek out pink men. Disgusting. When I first moved into my dorms, wide-eyed and excited, I started hanging out with a pink boy that seemed cool at first. Then, he called me one night and actually said the words “Hey, you’re Asian. Can you come over and help me with my laundry? You should be good at that, right?”

On that note: death and destruction to their Asian girl misogyny. To hell with them all, we will not stop fighting. Blessings to all my sisters.

“What kind of Asian are you?”

“I’m Filipino”

“No, you’re not,” is their reply.

I’m sick and tired of this reaction. Who are they to tell me that I am not my ethnicity?   

The best one was when this Italian girl in my French class asked what my background was and when I told her, she said, “Really? I wouldn’t have thought that you weren’t Asian.”

My eyes nearly fell out of my sockets. I am still Asian. Filipinos are Asian (South East Asian). What the hell are we if we aren’t Asian? For some reason others have started to believe that the Philippines is not part of Asia - like, please direct yourselves to a map and the ASEAN website and look at the list of members and - oh, look - there’s the Philippines. 

Patricia A.

100% Filipino - even though everyone thinks I am not.

Born in Manila to a Kapangpangan and Pangasinse mother and a Visayan father. Raised in Canada for as long as I can remember and have never been to the Philippines since my family emigrated.

It took me a long time to come to accept myself and my background and differentiate my experience from the stereotypes people have about my people and my culture. 

I have been told at the age of 5 that I can only speak English because other languages were not allowed. I lost my ability to speak my parents’ mother tongue since then and I am trying to re-learn it. 

I hate that many Filipinos don’t know about their history - why a majority of our surnames are Spanish (1849 Clavería Decree where we were forced to choose last names for tax regulation purposes), our own script/writing system (Baybayin) that predates our colonization, etc. 

I hated having to repress my interest and my longing to be more informed about my culture just so I won’t seem “too different” - even to my Filipino and other Asian friends.

To all my Asian-Canadians/Americans/Europeans/wherever who are struggling with wanting to connect to their culture:

Be proud of your culture, love it, express yourself in it and for anyone who gives you crap for it or finds it too “foreign”/“weird” - flip them and their ignorant, intolerant ass off.

Have a fantabulous day.

when i was... ( a poem )

trigger warnings: rape, mentions of violence, vomiting, starvation, and suicide.

when i was 8 years old,
a white man who i thought i could trust
used his every advantage of touching me
and there.
while he was spewing the words i learned to hate,
“you’re such a beautiful asian doll.”

when i was 9 years old,
i walked into a store holding my mother’s hand.
she was light-skinned, i was not.
she had straight short hair, i had mine up in two pigtails.
but i was happy.
until i could hear the shopkeeper say,
“did you see how dark she was?”

when i was 12 years old,
i had my first period.
one of the boys at school laughed at me
because he thought asian girls like me
couldn’t bleed down there.
i was sent home later that day.
he was sent to the nurse.

when i was 13 years old,
i got called a “fat buddha”.
i started to throw up before i could even chew
i skipped the three meals that i longed for
just so that i could come back to school
with my 78 pound body
and be told that i was “too skinny”.

when i was 15 years old,
a man described me as “exotic”.
i took it as a compliment
because exotic things are the prettier things right?
little did i know
he was the same man
that raped three asian girls in our area.
what scared me the most?
one of them was my age.
one of them could have been me.

when i was 16,
i had my first heartbreak
because my boyfriend found out
i wasn’t chinese.

when i was 16,
i was given pepper spray
because i was coming home later
which meant that i would need it.

when i was 16,
i thought about suicide.
because i was just some 
asian girl.

when i was 16,
i found hope.

now i am 17,
i am a fat bisexual
mixed southeast
asian woman
who could give less
than a fuck
about what you think about me.

-alex, 04/06/15