Wednesday, April 19, 2006

News, Breaking News, World News

In other news around the world, the legendary Julie Tam got a new engagement ring. I only mention that -- well, I'm not going to say why I mention it, but I doubt many of you would actually figure out the technical reasons for why I write some of the things I write.

In any event, Julie Tam is a native Texas girl making good in...Tennessee or someplace like that. She's a television reporter who now has her own official Julie Tam blog. Julie's blog is not quite as adventurous as mine, I suppose. After all, she stands before a television camera most days of the week and she's been interviewed by CNN and other networks for her coverage of some national interest-achieving stories (including the kidnap of a little girl in Tyler, TX).

Yes, that is where you may have heard of Julie Tam, if you didn't read about her on our Xenite Cool Sites page. So, maybe her blog is just a way of letting people know she's not a plastic television person. Maybe it's just a way for her to relax and stay in touch with friends and family. But it's one of the blogs I occasionally visit. While Julie may not tell the funniest stories in the world, or obsess about bass fishing like I do, she did post an interesting article on her blog on April 16. The entry is titled "Why I've never dated an Asian man".

You may never have heard of Angry Asian Man syndrome, but I have. It's a growing ethno-social issue here in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, that is becoming more visible. In a nutshell, young Asian men are increasingly complaining about the difficulty of finding and marrying an Asian girl. Julie offers one Asian girl's perspective:

Here's some advice to you Asian guys out there, so you don't lose another Asian woman to another race... Don't be shy, show a girl you're interested, open your mouth and talk! Otherwise, we get impatient, discouraged, and we move on.

You know, this advice cuts across all ethnic and age groups. There are a lot of guys today who haunt dating and seduction forums, asking for magic bullet advice that will help them get the girls of their dreams. The chief obstacle to finding a good relationship is one's own reluctance to get out there and say, "Hi. What's your name?"

So what if the girl is seeing someone? Maybe she is willing to trade up. You just need to show her you're a good tradeup. And maybe she has a lot of friends who are not seeing anyone. Just because a girl is committed to someone doesn't mean she won't like you enough to include you in her social circle. You never know who you'll meet.

Well, I stumbled across Angry Asian Man sites last year while I was doing online research about Asian culture. My Asian friends would tell me a few things, but I wanted to see what is on the Internet. My long-standing criticism of the Internet is generally vindicated by the huge amounts of nonsense I found. I'd mention a few things to my friends, or to Linda (the ex-, not Tall Linda from the dance class) and they would roll their eyes and say, "Why do you search the Internet for this stuff?"

You're not going to learn everything about what it means to be Asian and living in America from the Internet. I don't expect to ever have more than a casual awareness of some of the issues Asian Americans face. But you can watch new phenomena unfold across the Web and discussion groups if you know what to look for. People share their most intimate, personal feelings on blogs and in online discussions. They feel a false sense of security and anonymity and that makes them uninhibited (or less inhibited).

When you put enough similar comments together, you can detect a broad social stress point, such as the fact that Asian families are struggling to maintain their cultural heritage in the United States. Other ethnic groups have passed through similar stress in their acculturation processes. Hispanic families experience similar cultural incongruities as their children grow up in largely English-speaking cmmunities and attend English-speaking schools.

I can attest to the confusion a child experiences when people assume he or she is a classic Hispanic stereotype. I don't speak with a Hispanic accent, I don't really speak Spanish, and I didn't really develop a taste for Mexican and other Latin foods until I was an adult. I grew up on hamburgers and hot dogs. Captain Kirk was my childhood hero. Gilligan and the Skipper taught me how to laugh. Donna Douglas and Dawn Wells taught me why men appreciate non-plastic, down home girls.

Italians, Germans, Swedes, Spaniards, French -- every classic "white" ethnic group that has settled in America has melted into the mainstream. But there remain enclaves in some areas where old languages and traditions persist. Those cultural enclaves continue to impact our cuisine, our language, and our imagination. Maybe one day they'll vanish completely, but hopefully we'll be comfortable enough with who are and who we are becoming to accept that we have a new culture that is directly derived from all the old cultures.

Culture has never been idle or static. The "old ways" were once new ways in the old world. People don't appreciate that their ancestors once crossed a desert or mountains or passed through a jungle to settle in a strange new land where they had to adjust to a new way of life. It's a continuing process in human experience.

So, yes, maybe I'm having fun with Asian girls because they respond to my confidence more than they do to Asian men's traditional quietness. Maybe there are other reasons. I know that some Asian girls don't make the switch to non-Asian men. At least not for long. I'm pretty sure I started losing interest in my last relationship when it became clear to me that I wasn't Vietnamese enough. I never wanted to be Vietnamese. I am who I am and I am comfortable with that.

For some girls, I won't be Hispanic enough, either. One day, those concerns won't be with many of us because each generation finds a way to confront them. But today we can see in the Asian and Hispanic communities the resonating clash of cultural identities that new American families have always experienced through the generations.

In reality, that's not news at all. It's just the way human experience unfolds.


Blogger Kate said...

You are too funny Michael. I really enjoyed your entry...;)

10:56 PM  

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