Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Asian and the Pauper

My parents came to visit me this weekend before I started my new job and they wanted to head to the city to go shopping and to visit one of their favorite food spots in the mall.  They decided to try out this Thai place.  The workers were brown skinned Asian folks and one would readily assume that they were Thai folks from obviously working at a Thai restaurant.  My dad went up and they said, "At ano para sa iyo?"  English translation: "And for you?"  But not in Thai... in Tagalog.  Yeah, you guessed it.  They were all Pilipin@.

Why this is problematic:

  1. This clumps all Asians and Asian Americans into one group, assuming that all Asian cultures and people are homogeneous, ignoring the diversity of Asian countries.  WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME!
  2. This further makes the Pilipin@ community invisible.  Pilipin@s are the second largest Asian ethnic group in the United States and yet people know nothing about us but lumpia!  So that leaves us with the only option of posing as other ethnicities.  We gotta make money somehow and no one wants us represented.  Why can't we cook our own food?
  3. They were most likely OFWs (Overseas Filipin@ Workers), the Philippines' largest export.  While the OFWs themselves are not problematic (they just trying to make money for their families), the system they belong to is.  This is a whole 'nother blog post but plain and simple, the Philippines relies too much on OFWs to sustain the economy and the US exploits the hell out of them and then deports them.
There are many more reasons this is problematic and this has only scratched the list but it gives a glimpse into the attitude the US has toward Pilipin@ immigrants and expatriates and the Asian American community in general.  Funsies.