Editor’s Note: Ranier Maningding is a copywriter and mastermind behind the social justice page “The Love Life of an Asian Guy“. The opinions expressed in this piece are solely his own.
According to the “Secret Asian Handbook of Secret Asian Stuff,” Asian-Americans should never, under any circumstance:
- Support Donald Trump
- Major in something impractical like Journalism or Communication Studies because your brothers and cousins are making good money in the nursing industry, anak. It’s never too late to go back to school.
Fortunately for me, I’m only guilty of the latter while 29% of Asian-Americans are guilty of voting for Darth Cheese Whiz.
Strange, right? You’d think that Asian-Americans — an ethnic group that endured the Chinese Exclusion Act, experienced the horrors of American occupation in the Philippines, and Executive Order 9066, aka, the internment of Japanese-Americans — would notice the shit-stained writing on the Trump administration’s wall and say, “This is a bad idea that looks awfully familiar. No thanks.”
In a way, that’s impressive. One-third of Asian-Americans voted for Donald Trump? Damn! I can’t even get one-third of the Asian-Americans in my family to agree on which bubble tea cafe we should go to! If you want to understand why so many Asians voted for President Hellraiser, you need to understand the primary objective of the most Asian-American families: assimilation.
Next to Black folks, there’s nothing white America hates more than foreigners. Asian immigrants who arrive in America quickly notice the ingrained xenophobia, and they’re desperate to assimilate so they can move up the social ladder. They trade their ethnic names for easy to pronounce American ones like “Todd Wong” or “Becky Macalalad,” swap out their fried catfish lunches for a ham and cheese sandwiches, and shed their accents to mask any audible signs of their foreignness.
Immigrants are forced to abandon their ethnic identities in exchange for a chance at the American dream.
These things — name changes, altering our diets, learning a new language — take time. There are, however, shortcuts towards assimilation. Acts of internalized racism like laughing along with your white coworker’s racist jokes (“Haha! Good one, Allen! Asians do eat dog!”) or voting for Donald Trump can position you as the exceptional Asian. The model minority Asian. The Asian who “gets it” and understands that America comes first.
The problem with Asian-American Trump voters is that no amount of name changing, Garth Brooks listening, or Donald Trump fangirling will eradicate systemic anti-Asian racism nor will it give you access to the resources of your white peers. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re an Asian Trump voter who makes love to a blow-up doll of Mike Pence while you listen to the soothing sounds of Alex Jones on InfoWars — in the eyes of white America, an Asian will always be seen and treated like an Asian, no matter how hard they try to be accepted into whiteness.
No one knows about more about white America’s refusal to induct Asians into whiteness than Takao Ozawa.
In 1922 during the landmark case of Takao v. United States, Takao Ozawa, a Japanese-born man who lived in the United States for twenty years, requested but was denied American citizenship.
“My honesty and industriousness are well known among my Japanese and American friends,” said Takao. “In name I am not an American, but at heart I am a true American.”
Even though Ozawa graduated from the University of California, converted to Christianity, and raised English-speaking children, he was deemed unqualified after the federal and state courts unanimously decided that citizenship was only granted to “free white persons” and “aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent,” and that “white person” applied only to those of the Caucasian race.
One year later during the United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind case, Indian-American resident Bhagat Thind also applied for naturalization and was rejected. Thind, an Indian-Sikh man, argued that his Indo-Iranian heritage made him a pure Aryan and thus, Caucasian.
Fast forward to 2017 and Asian-Americans who crave white acceptance continue to be shivved in the tummy by white supremacy, proving once again that you might long for the cold embrace of whiteness, but you’ll never receive the perks of white privilege.
Vietnamese-American Import Tuner model-turned-Nazi-loving, Holocaust-denying, anti-Black racist, Tila Tequila, was recently suspended from Twitter for anti-semitism and racism. After images surfaced of Tila throwing up the Nazi salute at a party for the National Policy Institute, a white-supremacist group run by Mr. I-Got-Punched-Twice-For-Being-A-Nazi, Richard Spencer, Twitter removed the human troll doll from their website.
Notorious conservative blogger and Filipino-American bigot Michelle Malkin was roasted by Donald Trump himself after questioning his qualifications on Twitter.
In an unprecedented move that invokes the yellow peril myth (the racial theory that Asians are a severe threat to Western society), the Trump administration filed an action to perform security checks on Chinese visitors. Secretary John Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security insists on screening Chinese visitors and their social media accounts for suspicious activity.
“If they come in, we want to say, what websites do they visit, and give us your passwords. So, we can see what they do on the internet.”
No Amount of Papaya Soap Can Wash Away Your Asianness
Whenever Asian-Americans gain a sense of arrogance, emboldened enough to think that they’re capable of assimilating into whiteness, reality swings around the corner to wake us up and say:
Asian-Americans who vote for Trump are unaware that the consequences of his administration can and do impact Asians. They’re convinced that Trump’s travel ban, his executive action to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the deportation of Mexican immigrants will surely bend around Asians and leave us unscathed. That’s not the case. Asians are just as susceptible to Trump’s faulty policies as Black, white, and Muslim-Americans.
But if we’ve learned anything from Bhagat Thind, Takao Ozawa, Tila Tequila, Michelle Malkin, or Chinese Trump voters, it’s this:
As an Asian-American, you have a better chance at being accepted by your parents for being a Filipino-American atheist, radical activist who majored in Communication Studies than you are at receiving white privileges by supporting Trump.
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