Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Get Yo' Bulgogi On..." Really, asshole, I mean really?

 Image from Just Another Blog

If it's not clear from the title, this is a rant.

I've been in NYC since late August. During one very short-term assignment, I discovered a restaurant on 32nd Street. I LOVE it. After living for eight years in South Korea, Korean food IS comfort food for me. NYC is definitely a city you have to adjust to. That means I have bad NYC days, just as I had bad Korea days. Of course, as I spent more time in Korea my bad Korea days were much fewer and further in between. I know the same with happen with NYC. However, right now, I'm very sensitive to the insane amount of mean people here.

I had a bad NYC day on Monday. At the end of the day, I decided to head to my favorite spot on 32nd Street and get some Korean food. As I was walking in, two white men were walking out. One saw me and said, "Get yo' bulgogi on." Now, he very well might have just been saying it in general, but really? It's rare I pass whites in NYC speaking Ebonics unless it's in jest. My initial read was he saw me. It registered to him that a black woman in a Korean restaurant isn't something you see often. Then this smart ass decided to say something funny. However, I chose to just ignore him. I mean really, what if I was wrong and it was just an oddly timed moment?

However, assuming my gut reaction was correct, the irony is 1) I really don't like bulgogi that much and 2) if he knew my history and about my eight years in Korea, he would have just zipped his stupid f%^kin' yap.

There is another element here. That is an element of entitlement. Please explain to me why some whites seem to think they're the only people entitled to experience and like foreign cultures? (Please note I said "some" and not all, so don't wander in the comments saying I'm laying this on all white people...I'm not.) I ran into this while in Korea a lot. I'm running into it here a bit too. However, in the USA, so few people have spent any significant time abroad that it rarely comes up.

I don't know how many times I get the very impressed with themselves Caucasian who happens to have a few visa stamps in their passport and think that entitles them to be a world expert. I might entitle them to being a backpacking in Europe expert or a summer work in Mexico expert, but world expert? Nah. Hell, I'm no world expert. I know NE Asia and, specifically, South Korea. I've traveled to a few places but just because I've spent a few weeks in Paris doesn't make me an expert. How damn hard is that to understand?

Rant over... (and, um, yeah...that code ain't fixed yet, so there is nothing after "read more".)

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  1. I just stumbled upon your blog from Expat Angels via twitter.

    I'm an Adult TCK living in NYC too! More on that below...

    I can relate, there are many ridiculous NYers, but then again what's New York without the crazies?
    I am an Asian women, on good days I actually look very mixed race especially with my biracial boyfriend. But on other days when I'm sleepy/tired/angry/grumpy/etc. I always seem to attract the creeps that start "ching chong chang" or some other racial slurs or even trying to speak to me in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, to which I completely ignore and sometimes they speak louder! I respond back with a "I'm sorry but I don't speak your language". Maybe I should respond in Swedish! That would really be a kicker!

    Anyways... I'm currently at the Families in Global Transition conference in Houston. I'm live tweeting the sessions and will hopefully be live streaming the session I'm presenting. @ahdancecompany

    I'm working on a multi-disciplinary arts performance about third culture kids, cross culture kids, global nomads and our premiere is set for May 13-15, 2010 at the University Settlement in the Lower East Side. I hope you can make it to the performance! Check out my project blog and if you're on facebook my dance company has a group page. Search for A.H. Dance Company. You can find out more about the performances there too!

  2. Thanks for the comment and the understanding. I had to Google "TCK". That's interesting. However, I'm not one of them as I spent my whole life growing up in the same house on the same street in the USA. That stability, which is awesome, is one of the main reasons I needed to escape and probably one big reason I was gone for so long. It's been a year since I've been back and now the goal is to get back to traveling ASAP. At best, I'm a third culture adult. ;)

    I'd just think that people would think twice here about saying stuff like that. In L.A. they do think twice probably because you risk getting shot if you say it to the wrong person. ;)

    Without the crazies, you're right, NYC doesn't have some of its sheen.

    I just hate racist crazies though. ;)

  3. Don't know how I stumbled across your blog, but I did, and it seems like we have much in common. First, let me just say that I totally and completely understand you. There is an ease in which "some" whites appropriate foreign cultures--it is white privilege at its best. I'm sorry you had to experience such ignorance--it really does eat at the soul.

    I went to undergrad in NYC--I loved the freedom and diversity, but I was never comfortable with the lack of community. I hope you find what you are looking for in the mean city streets.

    I also graduated from law school but chose not to practice law. I am in grad school, once again, trying to figure out what life has in store for me. With that said, I wish you luck on your journey.

  4. Hey Shine,

    I'm glad you found me. Are you also a blogger? Since it sounds like we've had similar journeys, if you're writing I'd like to read what you have to say.

    I like this, " really does eat at the soul." It does. It's not so much that he was an idiot. It was another moment where I was disappointed in another human being. That always smarts a bit even if the person is a moron.

    Regarding finding what I'm looking for, we'll see. I've found a better community but it's one that isn't very diverse. If I can wrangle in some diversity, I'd be happier. Wish me luck.

  5. did you by chance ask the slate gabfest crew the question from the last podcast? I remember a post a while back where you talked about the gabfest.

  6. Yes, I was there on Wednesday night, and I asked that question.

  7. I thought that was you! Stephen beat me to the question. I was one of your salsa dance partners back in Seoul and I recognized your voice.

  8. Ha! That generated a real life LOL from me. It's also sort of disturbing because, of course, I listened to the podcast and was thinking, do I really sound like that?

    I hope all is well with you and that, unlike me, you're still dancing. NYC gives me no time and very little cash to do it now. :(

  9. Yes I definitely agree with the whole entire article. People act is if blacks don't travel the world or study geography.

    Also I get irritated when some white folks say I am an expert, I am like no you are not because there are many things people will never tell you so appreciate the landscape and leave it at that.

  10. Well, I think people can be experts if they put the time in. A white friend of mine IS an expert on South Korean culture. However, she's put in the time to master the language and to become an expert in the things she likes.

    However, that differs from the person who says "I was in Seoul once for a couple of days." That person isn't an expert on Seoul. They might be an expert on business travel or short two day stopovers, but that's it.

    The other issue is people have such low expectations for blacks that it just gets frustrating to deal with.

  11. I'm also offended by the use of ebonics by white people when speaking to my or in my general direction. I got annoyed at a bartender when he greeted me, "Hey, girlfriend!" with an exaggerated ebonic twang.

    "Girlfriend?" I replied as I gave him a stiff look. He then made some excuse about just being friendly. I called bs on that one.

    What I don't get is why some white people make that choice of othering those who don't look like them. It's not cute, funny, or endearing to anyone but themselves which, frankly, is sad.

  12. I have to say that I agree with you. However, I think we all have that habit. It's just since they're in the majority we notice it more, and it has a lot more power since they're the majority.

    In all fairness, we're guilty of it too. It's just that we don't have the numbers to be that offensive.

  13. That's f'ed up. I can't figure out how social retards like that can--besides, they should know that you're a JjimDalk fan.

  14. Exactly mutha-fucka! If that dude had said "get yo' jjim dalk on!" or "get yo' samguypsal on!" it would have been righteous as hell! However, that stupid racist didn't know me from Adam. F%^k him!

    (Yes, I'm in rare form tonight, but little do you know in a very good mood. Probably because one of my roommates is out of town!!! Yeah!)


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.