So, I’ve been having to deal with a lot of headaches lately. Partly from my migraine, but mostly from people.
I’ll get straight to the point. Wouldn’t you be mad if someone reduced you to racist comments and stereotypes of your wonderful culture? Hell, you’d be so mad, you’d want to do things beyond the phrase, “This person is going to catch my hands* if they open that stinky mouth of theirs again!”
(A/N: *Catching hands essentially refers to a more toned down version of, ‘I’m going to beat the crap out of you, ya punk, if you don’t fucking shut that garbage you call your mouth.’)
This post IS from a k-pop fan. Not an angsty, misses-the-whole-point-in-the-process kind of fan. But a more, I’m-really-tired-of-your-racist-comments-and-I-cannot-believe-i-have-to-educate-people-on-this kind of fan.
Saying you like k-pop is met with skeptical looks of, “Why do you listen to songs you don’t understand?” and eye rolls from hypocrites who call Despacito their favourite song and jam to it at least once a day.
My problem, however, doesn’t lie with their hypocrisy. (I’ll deal with this issue on another blog post) It lies with the fact that they reduce an entire culture to stereotypes. To everything this culture is essentially not. K-Pop, in fact, comprises of many cultures. For a long time, K-pop’s biggest acts (groups, in this example) have hosted/are hosting Chinese members in their lineups. And now, even Thai AND Japanese members are part of current lineups of up and coming groups. I’d love to disclose groups with foreign members, but I’m sure that will be a post for another day.
You know how people assume that everyone in K-pop “looks the same”? Yeah, they are the ones I’m talking about.
The way you phrase it doesn’t make it seem racist; it just makes you look ignorant.
To say, “All Asians look alike,” has more racist connotations (usually unintended) than something along the lines of “I have a hard time telling Asians apart.”
Without more context, this first phrase is dangerous. It implies that it’s the Asians’ fault that they look alike. In fact, they look alike to you because you haven’t interacted with many Asians. That’s not their fault.
The phrase also implies that you’re not trying to differentiate them, which may not be true. Without more information, this can come off more racist than you intended.
The second phrase, however, puts the onus on you and your inexperience. It’s not necessarily your fault that you haven’t had opportunities to interact with certain ethnic groups. Not all of us can grow up in an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse group.
But, let me break it down this way to you:
The Japanese do not look like the Koreans, and the Chinese don’t look like the Mongols. Similarly, Kpop group 2PM’s Taecyeon will not look like EXO’s Suho. They might look alike at the first glance, but after a while of looking or watching, you’ll see the differences. There are different shades and types of hair, different eye shapes, different facial structures, different heights, different skeletal structures, different skin shades, etc.
It isn’t actually racist to have this initial difficulty. But, concluding that all Asians objectively look alike is entirely racist because it indicates that you are dismissing this difficulty differentiating Asians from each other as due to a universal quality of Asians rather than your own underdeveloped experience and/or lack of effort or attention.
Asia, as of today, has 48 countries. Isn’t that enough reason to understand diversity? Essentially, people tend to classify Asians as, “Koreans-Japanese-Chinese.” But, you need to know that Indians, Thais, Burmese, Nepalis, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Malays, etc are all Asian, and no, we don’t look alike.
Pulling “slanting eyes” to make fun of essentially a part of Asians who happen to have been born with monolids, makes you look ignorant and stupid at best. First of all, it’s reducing them to one aspect of their body. Second of all, that aspect is one that they don’t have in common with the people who are mocking them over it, meaning they’re Othering them; saying implicitly, “They’re different from us in a way that matters.” And because it is mockery, which carries an inherent implication of negativity, it’s saying, “They’re different from us in a bad way that matters.”
Bottomline of this post is, educate yourself. You have the internet at your disposal. You don’t have to understand all of this by necessarily getting into Asian pop music, dramas, etc. But you can learn and educate not just yourself, but anyone you see making the same mistakes and understand the implications of your action.
Until the next post!