An Asian American Dream

You know the S.C.W., Second-Class White — the Asian American so committed to passing for white that *she never says, does, eats or wears anything a white person hasn’t already said, done, eaten or worn, preferably in a movie or a sitcom. More than death itself the S.C.W. lives in terror of situations that might expose her as a unique person with unique feelings that harken to a unique personal history that goes back to—eep!—F.O.B. ancestors.

You know painfully well who I mean. The S.C.W. is always too eager to confess that—contrary to the evidence of her face — she actually isn’t Asian, not really. For one thing, she tells you, in overearnest valley or preppy tones, she grew up in a totally white area where hers was like the only Asian family, well, except maybe one other family that owned a laundry or a restaurant or a liquor store and they were, well, you know.

For another thing, she usually adds, she never really had the opportunity to experience Asian culture because her family lived in a totally white bread area where there wasn’t anything ethnic for like hundreds of miles — you know?

Careful study of the U.S. map does support the possible existence of Whitebreadville, perhaps near the Wyoming-South Dakota border. There is also the possibility that Whitebreadville may actually be a large metropolitan area capable of exporting tens of thousands of displaced young S.C.W.s each year. Of course, that conflicts with the S.C.W. belief that they grew up in a virtual Asian vacuum. Perhaps not. Since S.C.W.s don’t consider themselves Asians, it’s conceivable they grew up mistaking one another for Whites. After all, if the subject never came up, how would anyone know?

There’s trouble when people confuse S.C.W.s with F.C.A.s (First-Class Asians). S.C.W.s are naturally expected to be docile and predictable, in keeping with their desire not be assert their individuality. F.C.A.s are assertive and unpredictable, at least to those unused to the idea of Asians being individuals with strong self-images. Unlike S.C.W.s who shy away from situations that may bring them into contact with anything Asian, F.C.A.s embrace many aspects of Asian culture, eating the food, taking an interest in Pacific Rim developments, making a reasonable effort to use or learn the language. S.C.W.s see any deviation from their rather fixed idea of the White American norm as an inexcusably uncool imposition on their fellow citizens. F.C.A.s see it as their duty to infuse American society with greater awareness of Asian culture and societies.

Little wonder there’s embarrassment, confusion and ill will all around when S.C.W.s and F.C.A.s come in contact with one another!

Is it really fair to subject S.C.W.s to the constant need to answer questions from people who thoughtlessly mistake them for F.C.A.s? Why must an S.C.W., who knows deep down that she’s just like every other (white) American, be lumped with people who have the bad taste to speak a language other than English and eat foods that aren’t even sold at the A&P? The only fair and reasonable solution, it seems to me, is to separate S.C.W.s from F.C.A.s so members of neither group can be mistaken for that of the other.

The most economical and satisfactory way to do this is to give S.C.W.s their own comforting world in which they need never again face thoughtless identity questions from anyone—a Whitebreadville just for S.C.W.s!

For a few measly tax billions our government could build a settlement of attractive, comfortingly uniform stucco houses in a corner of the South Dakota plains. We could name it Whitebreadville to put S.C.W.s in mind of the idyllic communities whence they must have come.

Whitebreadville would be sensitively stocked with pacifying reminders of the world S.C.W.s must have grown up in—Good Humor trucks, Dairy Queens, Hardees burger shops, breadboxes, Fizzies, straws with elbows. It would be carefully stripped of any Asian influences or elements to prevent troubling issues of identity from ever arising. We could even surround the entire settlement with coils of barbed wire to keep outsiders from thoughtlessly subjecting S.C.W.s to Hyundais, Hitachis, Jackie Chan videos and other troubling reminders of an increasingly Asian world.

The best thing about Whitebreadville: it would be utterly devoid of real white people who might subject S.C.W.s to terrifying questions like, Why are your eyes like that? or Where are you from?