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Survival Guide for Asian American Women

In every social situation, make a special effort to engage Asians in conversation. Enjoy that empowering bond of being a majority of two Asians in a white gathering. It is far better for your long-term social prospect to look as though you have a natural affinity for other Asians than to look as though you want to avoid them. Just remember that no one of any race respects a person who avoids members of her own race.
  1. Cultivate a taste for Asian cuisines.

         Of all cultural affinities, food is the most visceral and intimate. Any Asian woman who shows no special love for Asian foods will seem unaturally detached from her own roots. It doesn't matter how much you profess to have grown up only with western foods. No one will believe that your alienation from Asian food is just a matter of taste. Everyone will assume that you are a sad half-person without a sense of identity. That's true even for non-Asians who may initially seem gratified by your apparent immersion in western culture.

         If for no other reason than to put yourself in the company of other Asians occasionally, visit an Asian restaurant at least a few times each month. Get more mileage from this act of cultural pilgrimage by pressuring non-Asian acquaintences to join you on pain of being written off as boors. If you can't get them to do so, you don't have their respect, no matter what they may say.

  2. Display Asian art and cultural objects.

         Don't settle into a new dorm, home or office without putting up at least a few pieces of Asian art or culture. You will earn respect from both Asian and non-Asian acquantences as someone who takes pride in her cultural heritage. An Asian person esconced in a setting whose decor is entirely western in motif will seem pathetic to anyone with an aesthetic or cultural conscience. In other words, the more cultured the people whose respect you seek, the more importance you should place on displaying Asian cultural objects. And I'm not talking about the kind of kitsch that non-Asians call Asian. I'm talking about art or objects that real Asians consider worth displaying.

  3. Become knowledgeable about Asian history.

         Pride in one's heritage isn't possible without knowledge of the history of one's ancestral homeland. Most Asian Americans reach adulthood with a grossly distorted and minimized concept of the role Asians have played in the building of human civilization. A eurocentric history education underpins the shame or indifference many Asians feel toward their identities.

         You don't have to become a history professor to begin seeing the distortions in American historical perspective. To see the absurdity of the notion that civilization was born in Egypt and perfected in Greece and ancient Rome, just pick up any of thousands of books on the history of China, Corea, Vietnam, Cambodia or Japan. Once you see that many of the most important strands of human progress were actually spun in Asia, you will find it impossible to feel like a marginal member of the human family.

         Genuine pride can't be faked. If you want it to radiate from your eyes and each of your actions, visit a library or bookstore and start learning how the earth was really won.

     No one said being a proud Asian American woman is easy. But taking the easy way out as a young woman will guarantee you a hard life of progressive alienation from all that is important to you. Start up the high road when you're young and your life can be all that you hope it will be.

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"Get more mileage from this act of cultural pilgrimage by pressuring non-Asian acquaintences to join you on pain of being written off as boors."