By Amy Liao, MAASU (Midwest Asian American Students Union)
Editor’s Note: When the organizers of the April 2005 MAASU Conference contacted AAV’s editors about their event, we asked to have some of their members send us a release or some other information about the organization — what it was about, where it came from, what it meant to the members. Following is one of the most creative “releases” we’ve seen come across our desks all these years at AAV, which we decided to post as a commentary in itself, too, although the conference program and registration details are listed below.
A Scene from Childhood
[White lady]: “Why hello! Aren’t you just adorable! Cute as a button!”
[Me]: (silent wide-eyed stare…well, you know, as wide as my slanted eyes can get)
[White lady]: (Laughs) “Looks like the cat got your tongue!” (pets my baby-fat cheeks)
[Me]: Why are buttons cute? Buttons are annoying. Zippers are much more practical. And I don’t have a cat. Actually I’m allergic to cats. My tongue is still in my mouth. See! Lalalalala. I’m so confused! Who is this woman? Look, lady, I don’t understand these American figures of speech. My parents are Taiwanese IMMIGRANTS. They speak broken English. We don’t speak with silly similes and strange idioms at home. You’re not making any sense to me, okay?! So, PLEASE quit touching my cheeks!
Another Scene from Childhood
[Dad]: (in Taiwanese) “Look who came all the way from Taiwan. Acknowledge his presence and say his name.”
[Me]: “Soo-Soo.” (meaning “Uncle”)
[Dad]: (nods satisfactorily)
[SooSoo]: (to me) #$%&*()%#@!#$%^&*%#@!
[Me]: (expression of bewilderment and confusion)
[Dad]: (in Taiwanese) “Ah yes. No Mandarin. She only understands Taiwanese. And English, of course. She IS American, you know!”
[SooSoo]: (in Taiwanese) “Only Taiwanese?!”
I am not American. I am not Asian. Asian-American? To me it is no-longer just “a combination” of the two. It can’t be that simple. Don’t label me because I’m more complicated than that. “Just keep swimming”, says Dory.
We WILL keep swimming! And we will think outside the bowl.
The Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) was started in response to a need for political unity among Asian American students in the Midwest. Its first organized meeting was held in Granville, OH in October 1989 with 20 attendees from 6 schools and the American Citizens for Justice. By 1990, there were more than 20 universities in the Midwest that had formed APA organizations. Some had been around for years; some were in their infancy. Students felt there needed to be an organization that would support the growth of these organizations and organize APA students in the Midwest for political activism. The Midwest Asian American Students Union strives to recognize the needs of the Asian Pacific Islanders American (APIA) community. For more information, visit the organization’s main site www.maasu.org.