How do you like being “yellow”?
If you’re like me, you don’t. You’re all too aware of the low status the color yellow enjoys in American culture. “Ya yella-bellied coward!” is one of the first associations that pop to mind, spoken maybe in the voice of John Wayne all squinty-eyed with sun-dusted scorn. Another is yellow journalism (an art never practiced here at GoldSea, by the way). Yellow teeth. The yellow of jaundice. Or piss. Lemons are yellow. Let’s face it — yellow is about as low as you get on the American spectrum.
Of course, assigning yellow to the Asian race wasn’t entirely spurious. The Chinese emperor was often respectfully called “the Yellow Emperor”. In Chinese culture yellow is the color of royalty and dignity. But that’s beside the point to us Asian Americans who must endure its unflattering associations on this side of the ocean. We don’t care with what kind of respectful intentions the color had been assigned us back in the days when the west was in awe of imperial China’s wealth, power and cultural enlightenment. Today, it’s a sucky color.
It wouldn’t burn us so much if the other races that make up America had equally unflattering color coding. As I see it, a comparable level of insult would be achieved by calling caucasians the pink race. The white boys would hate it because it sissifies them. The rightwingers would hate it for lumping them with those hated commies. Even the feminists would hate it for branding them with a color associated with traditional femininity. The pink man. No, caucasians would never stand for it, though in point of fact, the typical caucasian skintone is at least as much pink as it is white.
As colors go, white is about as dignified and respected as any. It connotes purity, cleanliness, health. It rhymes with right. The little color strip on those disposable razor heads are white, forcing us guys to remind ourselves every few mornings “white on top”. (Now that I think about it, I’ll bet that’s why Gilette put a white strip there.)
Black isn’t bad either. It’s the color of power, mystery and sex appeal. Sure, it’s sometimes associated with evil, but there are plenty of guys like Zorro and Paladin and the like — mysterious handsome strangers — who make the color morally ambiguous. Hell, even Darth Vader is pretty cool. Who hasn’t had days when he wanted to be just like him? Strictly from the sex-appeal standpoint, black can’t be beat.
And red is a pretty exciting color too, suggesting speed, passion and vitality. Native Americans don’t seem too hot and bothered about being called red men.
No, we have to admit that, given our druthers, yellow wouldn’t have been our color-code of choice. I think we all know what color comes to mind as the only desirable alterantive. Be honest. If we had picked a PR firm to brand us with a color, what would that be? Gold, of course.
To start with the practical, most would agree that our skintones are at least as much gold as yellow, especially if we’ve been getting out enough. I mean there are those of us who are downright white, whiter than most Whites, and others of us who tan as dark as many African Americans. But taken as a whole, Asians tend more toward a light golden color. So gold is not inaccurate. To the contrary, it’s probably more accurate than any other color that could be applied to us.
The Golden Race. Yeah, it’s us.
Gold is associated with purity, worth and incorruptible strength. Also with the blessed state of health and prosperity. A few of us might feel a bit uneasy with its sometime association with callow materialism and filthy lucre. As for me, hell, I never considered lucre filthy in the least. I’ve always considered it a blessing for those fortunate enough to enjoy it.
Most importantly, gold stands on an equal footing, dignitywise, with white, black and red. I like the color. From a graphical standpoint, too, it works well. You may have noticed that gold is all over our site. Mine those hyperlinks for gold is how I think of it. Gold is our color. If we insist on applying it to ourselves, in a few years our kids will grow up thinking of themselves as golden men and women instead of the insulting labels we had to endure.