Monday, May 21, 2012

Inter-Ethnic and Intra-Ethnic Relations

Ricky Lai
ASA 150E
                                    Inter-Ethnic and Intra-Ethnic Relations

            Prior to attending UC Davis, I had very little knowledge of other South East Asian American experiences living in the United States. Because of my naivete, I found Jason’s presentation to be very informational and intriguing. First and foremost, I was very surprised to hear that Cambodians were “making it” through owning and operating donut shop businesses. Almost immediately, I began thinking of all the different times I frequented donut shops and whether or not they were owned by Cambodian families. Interestingly enough, I recalled the very same Davis donut shop that Jason mentioned in his presentation, “Fluffy Donuts”.
             I actually have a funny story relating to the owner of “Fluffy Donuts”. For many months, I thought the owner was Vietnamese because of the Vietnamese sandwiches he sold (they’re so good!). In addition to this, I addressed and spoke to him in Vietnamese from time to time. He never informed me that he was Cambodian until one day, a friend of mine that I went with told me that the owner wasn’t Vietnamese and was, in fact, Cambodian! That was pretty embarrassing. I wished he had told me he wasn’t Vietnamese from the start.
             It saddens me to hear the story of Ted Ngoy, a Cambodian man who came to American seeking the “American Dream”. Ted was innovative in his pioneering ways, making it possible for other Cambodians to create a life for themselves. To hear that Ted went from rags to riches, to rags again, makes me believe that the American Dream is dangerous when one begins to acquire more material wealth than is necessary. Unfortunately, Ted might be considered a role model for other Cambodians who are also seeking to create wealth for themselves through the donut shops. Considering the statistic of how many Cambodian families own donut shops and how so many of them still struggle (and work hard, long hours), I would hope that future generations of Cambodians move away from the donut shops so that they will be more economically viable.
            Mimi, Tri, and Christina’s presentation about the 1974 Boston Bus Riots seemed a bit outdated to me. I understood the importance and value of the article, especially so being that it was older. However, being a resident of California and living in 2012, I felt disconnected from the topics they discussed. The mention of having safe spaces in high school seemed problematic to me due to the notion that it may promote ethnocentrism during an age-range that is sensitive to bullying for being individualistic. In addition to this, the black vs. white binary is also outdated and exclusive of all other minority groups. I’m sure that many Asian American Studies majors have learned about the black and white binary and would also agree with me on that one.
            Despite the outdated article, I appreciated the presenters efforts in creating class dialogue and class discussion to link their topic to our own lives today. I didn’t quite understand what they meant when they suggested “safe spaces” because I come from San Jose, where I’m used to diversity in my schools and having a larger percentage of Asian students than White students. As the article pertained to Christina’s experiences growing up in Berkeley though, I could see why this article was alluring.

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