'You Seem So Western'

I have many offline and online relationships, some cross into both, some not at all. Last Sunday, an online moved into offline. It was a meeting to finally take the virtual into the real; I showed up expecting the person I had gotten to know and I wasn't surprised by whom I met. However, the person across from me sipping from a cup of coffee, looked up at me and said "You seem so Western".

I have learned to keep my lips together when my brain explodes. In my frontal lobe the synapses were firing messages to my lips, messages like "WTF. Did you expect a rickshaw to pull up? A Charlie Chan accent? Madame Butterfly?!" Of course, I didn't say all that, instead I gently let out a sigh and said "I was born in Canada to immigrant parents. I am Chinese Canadian and I took the oath of allegiance to the United States of America in 2000, so that I could vote in my adopted country".
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I am not sure what they expected, but I was over it. Really? We are a country of hyphenates, we are Chinese American, Japanese American, Filipino American, Viet American, Korean American, Thai American, we are all hyphenates in a country that revels in its history of immigrant ships coming from abroad.

This subject is close to my heart because of my family history, but mostly because of my personal experiences as a someone taken at face value. I will be writing about the experience of being a Hyphenate, of being able to see Los Angeles in multi-layers, of being able to cross bridges, and of co-existing in a city of 224 languages; from Little Tokyo to Chinatown to Historic Filipinotown to Koreatown to Little Saigon to Thai Town and to that city called Los Angeles.

Ophelia Chong. A true multi-tasker: illustrator, designer, teacher, networker and writer of short blasts of pent up hot air, writes about Los Angeles every Thursday at 10 a.m. on KCET's SoCal UpDaily blog.

Image: Flower Drum Song / Ophelia Chong

About the Author

A true multi-tasker: illustrator, designer, teacher, networker and writer of short blasts of pent up hot air.
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