Asian-American My San Francisco Chronicles public library quotation race

Jennifer 8. Lee Reading at SFPL

(This post is coming…rather late. Backdating the entry)

Jennifer 8. Lee had a book reading event at the SFPL on March 26, 2008. The room was mostly packed with Asian-Americans; a little surprising and amusing to me. Lee’s slideshow was fun to watch and was basically a short summary of what was all in her book. I had managed to read all except 20 pages left in the book; really good read in general.

One quotation from the book that really struck me was this:

“Look at me, and you may see someone Chinese. Close your eyes, and you will hear someone American.”

This quotation strikes me because of how accurately it describes most of what Asian-Americans experience in this country…probably everywhere else in the world besides their homelands. I find myself always getting confused for a “foreigner”, wherever I go in the US. People don’t seem to believe me when I say I am American; they give me this look as if I’m crazy for thinking that Americans can be Asians, too.

Even in San Francisco, I get mistaken as being “one of them” in Chinatown. Although I guess it makes them less discriminating towards me, at the same time, it gives me an uncomfortable position when I actually have to speak and they realize that my Taishanese is really limited.

I don’t know why it’s such a hard concept–after all, isn’t the US known for its diversity? Yet, I guess Asian-Americans seem like a “new breed” to many people. Who knows.