More Honky than You

Having lived in Asia for about a dozen years, I returned to the USA to go back to school in North Carolina. My childhood hometown had been all white and the inner city where I worked for ten years in my youth was largely black. Thus I grew up really only knowing Black and White — I had never really met East Asians, until I lived amongst them in Asia.

On just arriving back in the States, I was invited to a party held by fellow students.  There I met an Asian woman — she was adopted from Korea by West Virginia parents. I was excited to meet an Asian living in my North Carolina world. A group of us were talking and I tried to share with her common thoughts about Asia. But she asked me to step outside and join her away from the crowd for a minute.  I thought we were going to share more stories.

But when she got me alone she said, “Look Sabio, I was adopted at one-year old. All my friends have been West Virginian whites. I don’t know or care anything about Korea. I am far more honky than you. So stop all the ‘Asian’ shit, will ya?”

She put me in my place.

This is a memory marker illustrating my continued stupidity through life.


Filed under Personal

7 responses to “More Honky than You

  1. Excellent.
    Me, I’m only unbiased and stereotype-free when alone in a room and kidding myself.

  2. Tim


    I think a big part of the situation you describe can be generalized to any number of similar events where passion, in your case a valid passion for your very own experiences, is.rebuffed. Then we secretly chastise ourselves for ‘mis-reading’ our audience, saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, etc. We do the instant replay thing. Yet I think the desire for intellectual and cultural contact with another person is worth the risk of being misunderstood or the risk of unknowingly relating to someone at a level of engagement lower than our own. Picking the right audience is a skill learned over a lifetime. We are all foolish, in different ways, until we die.

  3. @ Andrew
    Put a smile on my face.

    @ Tim
    Well said.

  4. CRL

    Be grateful she had the decency to do that in private. Sounds like an excellent opportunity for public humiliation.

  5. You’re too hard on yourself, S. 🙂

  6. Jessica

    My ex-husband, also the father of my child, has a Korean mother and a Mexican father. He never cared to learn about the languages, cultures, etc. from either. I don’t think he regrets it, but I do because it makes it hard for me to tell my son about where he came from… But I haven’t been in the shoes of someone who has been completely assimilated into another culture from birth, either. Different strokes for different folks, huh?

    On another note, kudos for putting yourself out there and trying to relate… get into someone’s head… learn about their world… Most people either don’t care or are too afraid of rejection to become that vulnerable.

  7. Great story! Don’t feel bad though, I know this happens within ethnic groups as well. It’s funny the assumptions we can make sometimes.

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