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" • "Howloween 2: The Final Reckoning" • "Avery Schools Tyler" • "Stan Falls in Love" • "Avery vs.
People who look Asian, the assumption goes, are somehow unable to be American — we can see this demonstrated in the racist Chinese restaurant scene in “A Christmas Story,” when the all-American family has its Christmas dinner in a Chinese restaurant.
This is an invitation to find, look at, and think about the uncomfortable portrayals of Asian/Americans you see in the media — and start your own discussions.
“Because [Asian/Americans] are racially and culturally distinctive from the American mainstream, Asian people have been widely seen as unable to be absorbed into American society.
I’ve been told that I speak English “remarkably well” (that is, without an Asian accent).
And acquaintances are often shocked when they hear I’ve never been to China (which I haven’t; the only time I’ve been out of the US was a brief stay in Toronto).
The otherness of the Chinese people in the restaurant is demonstrated by horrible ethnic caricatures: Traditional dress, lack of understanding of American customs and most glaringly, what I’d like to call “fa ra ra ra bullshit” — the racist stereotype that Asian/Americans swap the Ls and Rs in their speech interchangeably.
I’ve never, ever heard any Chinese or Asian non-native English speaker sound the way the singers sound in “A Christmas Story.” Ever. And the supposed humor in the scene comes from the irony of it all — the all-American family having an all-American Christmas meal at a Chinese restaurant, which, as it’s played in the film, is the most un-American experience anyone could ever have.
These stereotypes are embedded in our culture and pass by unnoticed, especially since “A Christmas Story” is a culturally beloved film that almost everyone has seen.
I watched “A Christmas Story” for the first time last Christmas, and I liked it (with the exception of the restaurant scene) but I had never heard anyone ever call out the film for, or even talk about, its racist scene. The lack of discussion about this scene sends the message that this racism against Asian/Americans is still acceptable (or even funny) — that making fun of Asian/Americans through unrealistic Asian accents and an inability to speak English “correctly” (and highlighting this by titling the You Tube clips of the scene things like “Fa Ra Ra”) is A-OK.
The problem in my lived experience is that these few portrayals end up being what people expect of me, and other Asian/Americans, too, and they create a kind of cultural identity erasure.
When people look at me, they expect something that I am not — they expect an exotic other that doesn’t “belong here” (that is, in the United States).
According to this view, anything Asian is thus inherently ‘alien’ to America.” -ing all day.