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so stereotypical...

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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby kohyin » Thu 11.23.2006 8:15 am

I probably get into trouble by responding to this thread... :|

When I was a young girl, in Tokyo, once I was asked where I was from.

I was with my friends. 3 girls. One from north America, one from Japan but her mother had Russian blood, and I who is from Japan with Japanese blood (as far as I know -- some Chinese in Malaysia sincerely believed that I was from the main land China, and some Thais and Indonesians thought that I was one of them when I was visiting their countries.). Because one of us didn't speak Japanese very well, we were speaking in English.

So, this young man came up to me and asked me "where are you from?" He looked like he could have been from a part of Asia. I answered, "Asia."
He started trying to figure out what part of Asia I would be from... It didn't seem to occur to him that Japan was part of his Asia.

Here in California, several decades later, I was approached by a door to door sales person at my front yard. He looked at me and threw a few Japanese words. I looked at him and told him I didn't understand what he said. He said he thought I were Japanese. I said to him I were Chinese. He was sorry. I said, no porblem, we all look the same, and gave him big smile. He left me alone. (I'd turn into anything to avoid uninvited sales people.)

The followings are just a few of my experiences living in California for last 14 years:

I was shopping at a nursery. A lady came up to me and asked for assistance. She thought I worked there.

I was walking by a restaurant surounded by beautiful flower beds. Another passerby smiled at me and told me that I did a great job of decorating them.

I was in a line for a sandwitch during my lunch break, the casher smiled at me and asked "oh, do you work at the laundry shop across the street?" I told him, "no, I work at the small trading company next door (which was true)."

My first impression of the size of icecream peope here in California eat was "humongas!". The pint of icecream would last me more than a week. My spouse would eat it up in two days at max.

My first impression of the carrots sold here in California was "miserably tinny!". I said to my spouse "how come everything is so huge in America but carrots?" I was loud, and a gentleman near me heard me say that. He told me, "there are larger one over there!" I saw not tiny but skinny ones piled up in the pointed direction.

Sometimes, the stereotyping bothers me. Other times, it doesn't.

It is my opinion that the stereotype of those who cannot go beyond the stereotyping is living in a very closed world. I do in a way, and I don't in another way.

I tend to fit some people or things in the convenient stereotypes when I can. But, often enough, I see a person and a thing as just an individual.

I think I am getting old B) enough not to take steretyping too serious...
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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby Schattenjedi » Thu 11.23.2006 8:39 am

Kohyin, most of your "experiences with stereotyping" could be chalked up to innocent misunderstandings. You come across as paranoid about being stereotyped. What is it they say...people will perceive what they want to perceive.
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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby keatonatron » Thu 11.23.2006 9:54 am

kohyin wrote:
I was approached by a door to door sales person at my front yard. He looked at me and threw a few Japanese words. I looked at him and told him I didn't understand what he said. He said he thought I were Japanese. I said to him I were Chinese. He was sorry. I said, no porblem, we all look the same, and gave him big smile. He left me alone.


I bet that was the ONE time he actually guessed an Asian race correctly, and you totally crushed his spirit. :(
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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby Infidel » Thu 11.23.2006 1:28 pm

My first impression of the size of icecream peope here in California eat was "humongas!". The pint of icecream would last me more than a week. My spouse would eat it up in two days at max.


1 pint is what I eat with dinner. Sometimes I eat the dinner first.
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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby kohyin » Sat 11.25.2006 10:34 pm

Kohyin, most of your "experiences with stereotyping" could be chalked up to innocent misunderstandings. You come across as paranoid about being stereotyped. What is it they say...people will perceive what they want to perceive.


That was my point!
People assume what you are and who you are by your appearance all the time. It was very understandable that people thought I was a gardener, a laundry shop worker, or a nursery worker. Isn't it what us Asians do anyways? There is no need to be paranoid


I bet that was the ONE time he actually guessed an Asian race correctly, and you totally crushed his spirit.


It's possible. But, he might think twice before he judge a nationality just by the looks next time -- not all Asians are Japanese and I dont't start talking in Japanese to every Asian person I meet here. I usually start talking to them in English, and I would ask if they spoke Japane before I start bursting out in my Japanese. Nowadays, even the Sushi sheffs in Japanese restaurants could be non-Japanese Asians.
Would you just start talking in Swedish to a tall blonde person?
Last edited by kohyin on Sun 11.26.2006 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby datdo » Sat 11.25.2006 11:08 pm

for me its kind of different...everyone is either chinese or korean. Of all the asians I have seen on the east coast there was only one that was japanese. I met her at a summer camp. She studied ballet. I studied math...the only other japanese people I've seen were in Hawaii

but anyway I don't think people think that every Asian is Japanese...well at least not most of the people on this site....
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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby keatonatron » Sun 11.26.2006 1:15 am

Would you just start talking in Swedish to a tall blonde person?


I would if I had heard them speaking Swedish to their children right before coming out of their house.

You never know. Maybe he knows your husband, and your husband told him to come practice his Japanese with you. Maybe he heard you speaking Japanese before hand. Maybe he (correctly) guessed from your clothing style and looks that you are Japanese (Chinese and Koreans do look and dress quite differently, you know).

It was very understandable that people thought I was a gardener, a laundry shop worker, or a nursery worker. Isn't it what us Asians do anyways?


Maybe they thought that because you were carrying work gloves, laundry soap, and had baby food spilled on your shirt. Really, you don't know why those people confused you with someone else, so you can't really blame it on stereotyping that easily. IF someone had said, "Oh, well, you're Asian so I just assumed..." or "Excuse me, you must be good at gardening. Can you help me with... [gardening question]" THEN it would obviously be the result of stereotypes.
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RE: so stereotypical...

Postby kohyin » Sun 11.26.2006 1:16 am

for me its kind of different...everyone is either chinese or korean.


That explains one of my old experiences. Once I was mistaken as a Korean by a lady in a public bus. She said she just recently moved to California. She told me she was allergic to Koreans and their smell made her sick. She asked me if I would please change seat.:o I didn't see any points in arguing with her, but I didn't feel like standing up, so I smiled and stayed. Poor lady kept fanning furiousely with the misunderstanding of her own ailment... yap, I am paranoid ;)

I should have written, "not all Asians are Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans".
My point was that the stereotypes are mostly innocent misunderstandings about certain groups of people. I myself stereotyped people more than I would like to remember. It is convenient. I believe that, once you get to know a person as an individual, stereotypes no longer matter.

But, when the stereotyping advances to prejudice, then things get a bit more serious. I cannot say that I am not guilty of prejudices, but I try my best to stay open minded so that I can recoginize my own prejudice so that I have chance to correct it. I also try my best to be compassionate toward others who are unable to recoginze their prejudices -- this is harder because it is easier to point out other's faults than your own...
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