The Scallion Guide to Being the Right Kind of Asian in the West


Do: be female.
Don’t: be male.

Do: get your stereotypes right–conservatives believe Asian women are quiet and submissive, liberals believe Asian women are outspoken and sassy. Both sides believe that Asian men won’t speak up for themselves unless they’re incels.
Don’t: say that you were raised by loving parents who didn’t expect you to be a piano and violin-playing, straight-A Harvard graduate doctor.

Do: complain about white supremacy (and white men in particular).
Don’t: actually make any effort to challenge it in your personal life. The personal doesn’t have to be political unless it has to do with abortion. Or something.

Do: blame the (Asian) opposite sex for having privilege.
Don’t: admit to your own privilege.

Do: believe that you are entitled to being automatically accepted and loved by all Asians in Asia and if they don’t, complain that Asians are racist to you.
Don’t: speak the language, don’t understand the culture, and don’t care about context and history of your own privilege in Asia. If white people can get away with it, why can’t you?

Do: share Asian things that white people can also enjoy, like Yakult, Bollywood, and Apple products.
Don’t: actually let them enjoy it unless they’re dating you.

Do: assume that you know everything about Asia because you’re Asian.
Don’t: let white people assume that you know everything about Asia because you’re Asian. But don’t let them assume you don’t, either.

Do: support all anti-government movements in Asia. It’s not like the CIA has never meddled in international politics before to topple governments and install their own puppets.
Don’t: question the Western narrative about Asia.

Do: weaponize Western ignorance about the complexities of regional Asian politics and history in order to push yourself forward as a victim of another ethnic/religious/linguistic group.
Don’t: forget to get money, a job in media, or an academic post while doing this. Preferably all three.

Do: complain about cultural appropriation.
Don’t: actually understand what cultural appropriation means. You must have revenge for that one time someone made fun of you for eating shrimps with heads.

Do: say that you felt ugly growing up in the West because of the white beauty standard. There must be more beauty diversity!
Don’t: say that the obsession with fair skin and pointy noses in Asia (particularly Southeast Asia), as well as the preference for mixed-race (but only white/Asian) appearances, has anything to do with internalized racism resulting from decades of colonization. That’s racist!

Do: say “I speak perfect English.”
Don’t: say “There’s nothing wrong with having an Asian accent. What’s wrong is how Westerners mock the accent.”

Do: believe that despite their histories (and current activities) of conquest, imperialism, torture, oppression, and genocide, [insert Western nation here] is fundamentally good.
Don’t: believe that despite their struggles to overcome poverty, the legacy of plunder, war, and colonization, and Western attempts to keep them subservient, [insert Global South bogeyman du jour here] is fundamentally good.

Do: say “I don’t want to be stuck in Asian roles/writing about Asians.”
Don’t: say “There should be more narratives about different Asian experiences. White people don’t have the monopoly on interesting stories.”

Do: be offended by this post.
Don’t: examine why.

Leave a Reply