Photo from Wikimedia Commons
(reposted from M. Paramita Lin’s personal blog in honour of Coming to America‘s 30th Anniversary. This post was originally written on January 17, 2018. Thank you to the extraordinary Michael Harriot for coming up with the term “snowtep”.)
I don’t really fuck with Facebook that much, but I can’t deny that it has its uses. When I decided that I wanted to homeschool my kid, I ended up joining a homeschool group on Facebook, and it’s been a source of both useful information and entertainment.
Most of my friends are child-free, so when I explained joining the group to my friend J, this is how our conversation went:
M: i’m in some weird groups
M: it all started when i joined the homeschool group
M: before long, i was added to several other groups, some of which were too funny not to be part of
J: Dude for sure
M: i’m a member of a foraging group!
M: i have never foraged my entire life, unless you count walking around aimlessly looking for a starbucks
J: What the hell is there to forage anyway
M: the group hikes to the Hong Kong countryside and picks wild plants
J: No shit? That’s actually awesome
My homeschool group has also given me many non-child-related benefits, and one of them is a mom whom I call Anti-Vaxxer Mom. Anti-Vaxxer Mom is a really nice white lady from British Columbia who grew up on a commune. As her name indicates, she is against vaccinations but pro her kids eating the dirt in their backyard, which, although it is in the rural area of Tai Po in Hong Kong, I’m not sure is a good thing to do, considering all of the construction that gets done there.
Still, although I think most of us in the homeschool group fear for Anti-Vaxxer Mom’s kids’ health, she is hands-down the nicest and most helpful person in the group. She is an incredible source of home remedies that work, like drinking tea made from ginger, cloves, and turmeric for menstrual cramps (they disappeared in five minutes and didn’t return for another twelve hours!) or using honey mixed with ginger powder to relieve cough.
Anti-Vaxxer Mom is also the one who’s always got a friendly word for any new members of the group, and she was even nice to this horrible European woman (one of those who are so uncomfortably proud of her open-mindedness for being in an interracial relationship) who took her kids (all three under twelve) to a child brothel in India, paid the child prostitutes to paint with them, and then paid for a gallery in Hong Kong to exhibit the paintings. Of course, Anti-Vaxxer Mom’s views and statements on certain things, such as if you vaccinate your kids, you’re allowing the government to use them as guinea pigs for experiments, get her in trouble once in a while, especially with the founder of the homeschool group, whom I shall call Alison. Alison has a PhD and used to work for a petrochemical company and every so often, she’ll be so exasperated by Anti-Vaxxer Mom that she’ll threaten to evict her from the group.
The last time this happened, Anti-Vaxxer Mom was trying to get a group to regularly buy unpasteurized milk from a farm, and Alison freaked out when Anti-Vaxxer Mom proposed that pasteurization kills off the good bacteria in milk. Things were pretty quiet after that, then Anti-Vaxxer Mom popped up again early this month because Black History Month is coming, and so she wanted to get a head start by teaching her kids about African cultures.
I had to tell this to DL because this is the kind of stuff that leaves us both shaking AND scratching our heads at the well-meaning white cluelessness of it all. Our conversation is below (slightly edited for clarity):
M: did I tell you about Anti-Vaxxer Mom’s journey to Chungking Mansions
M: It’s the reason this emoji was invented: 😭
DL: Oh man please tell me
M: so she’s teaching her kids about Africa this month and next month because of black history month
M: which is a nice enough gesture
DL: Oh man
DL: This goes wrong very fast
M: but like…black history is american
M: it’s not african
M so there’s that first thing
DL: Yes oh man
M: so she asked about some african restaurants in chungking and i referred her to the one on the ground floor that has the nicest proprietor because i was afraid she’d get thrown out of the other ones
M: and she really liked it there, she was so happy that her kid got to talk to a real refugee 😅
M: and learn how privileged he was
DL: Omg we are not fucking educational tools
M: and you know, remember DD, who told me that fucked up story about using a wall as a masturbation tool
M: like, when i tell that story, it’s because DD is crazy, and i’m not actually saying anything about his ethnicity…like i don’t think i even ever mention what it is
DL: Hahahaha yes I will never forget that
M: but when Anti-Vaxxer Mom is talking about the people her kids talked to
M: it’s like “he met a (insert country) man and we found out about his tragic story”
M: i was just super 😒 when she said “it was so eye-opening for us”
M: like, what exactly is eye-opening?
DL: Oh man she is kind of the worst
M: anyway, she was so moved by that experience that she and her kids are volunteering at a charity in chungking to teach english to refugee children
M: so i think that’s a nice gesture
M: but man…
DL: haha it is still kind of ugh
M: well-meaning white people
M: like, Anti-Vaxxer Mom realllllly makes me 😅😒
M: i appreciate how helpful she is
M: and she’s sincerely nice
DL: Haha yeah I mean she tries to do good
DL: But dear lord
M: okay, so here’s the funny part
M: as a joke, i was like, oh you should watch “coming to america” for black history month because it’s about african immigrants
M: i don’t know what possessed me
M: the spirit of “let’s see what fuckery ensues,” i guess
M: anyway, so she got a copy and they’re going to watch it