Tag Archives: Asians

Dear white people: we Asians don’t all look alike

I don’t know how many times people here in Arizona say to me “you look like someone I know”, or “Are you such and such person?” and of course it is usually not me, so I politely reply “no”.  Sometimes just to be a bit contrary, I reply “Yes, we Asians all look alike”  meaning “I forgive you for not being able to differentiate me from another Asian you have met”.   It’s sad that many white people can’t seem to tell us Asians apart. A doctor at UAMC recently came up to me and called me “Catherine” by mistake.  And it’s impolite to single out a so-called “minority person” by their facial features.

Ok, so honestly I must look like every other Asian woman around Tucson:  slim, long black hair (though mine is getting SP – salt/pepper) and wire rim glasses.  Plus an oriental face, yellowish skin tone, the usual “perpetual immigrant/foreigner” Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese/Laotian look.  I could be anyone of those ethnicities, or mixtures thereof.

Recently though, a Hispanic woman mistook me for a Navajo woman friend of hers up north on the reservation. That was more flattering, as I know people have sometimes asked me what tribe I belong to, and I usually just smile and say that I’m not Native American, but I would like to be.

Then there’s the rude folks, who ask me “what country are you from?” so I usually reply “America” since Hawaii is really part of the U.S. (the last time I checked).  Hawaii became the 50th state back in August, 1959, and was an American trust territory since 1898. I was born there on one of the islands. I even have an authentic long-form birth certificate to prove it.  But then they keep asking, as they need to know what racial group to put me in, and usually I give up and reply truthfully that both sets of grandparents left Japan for the Kingdom of Hawaii/Trust Territory of Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations (in 1892 and 1910).

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