Desi Say What?!

From the folks at Cherry Sky Films, here is a video for you. There’s a cameo at the end by a Desi (Neil Sehgal) (h/t to Salil).

Cringe-worthy, no doubt, this short video reflects an inter-racial sub group struggle in self-identity versus external community identity monikers. In other words, the use of the word “nigger”. I thought the video was smart in that their use of the word “ninja” as replacement word and Asians as the replacement community really shifted the perception of the use of the “N word.” Plus, the video was hella funny.

What I loved most is when a brown kid saunters up on the basketball court to a group of Asian dudes and says, “What’s up my Ninjas!” The guys look like they are confused as to whether to accept him or not. But after a quick look to each other, they give him the bro-man hug and you hear “It counts.” As a South Asian, he may not be accepted immediately, but he can be accepted into the “in” group since South Asia is kind of Asian, if you stopped to think about it. Marginalized, a little bit, he can be accepted in the end. It was a simple interaction, but reflective so much of society’s deeper of inter-racial issues I’ve seen in the Desi meets East Asian communities.

As an activist in the Asian American and Pacific Islander movement, this attitude is something I see often, though a lot less brash and satirical as seen in the video. The South Asian community is often accepted into these AAPI space as an after thought, or even worse, as a token.Sure the AAPI “community” is a political term, just the way most racial terms are political constructs. But it seems that in my personal experience in these spaces, South Asians are always fighting for a place at the AAPI table, or added as an afterthought. People accept South Asians as “Asians” only when it is convenient, not because they necessarily see that Asia is a really big continent reflecting a variety of cultures and ethnicity.

This video reminded me of a conversation I had last week. I was talking with a friend about the term “The Other Asian” which Glee fans may recognize. It’s used in an episode to describe one of the silent East Asian football players on Glee. Basically, the character is an East Asian silent diversity place holder on the Glee cast. My friend had asked me if South Asians would identity with the term “Other Asian.” I told him that though there has been self-identity “naming” changes in the past few years to our community, it was hard enough for Desis to warm up to the label of “South Asian” and that the term “Other Asian” would just be too far removed.

I am obviously over-analyzing this really funny and nuanced video. I could have left it at that. But it would be remiss to post this video and not to open up the discussion to a dialogue we often debate here on the Sepia Mutiny threads – Are South Asians really a part of the Asian American space or is it just a convenient political construct?

Also, while on the topic, though it may be “counted” when a Desi uses the term “Ninja” but what about when a Desi uses the term “Nigger”? Every time I hear it in a Desi sung rap song, it makes me cringe, just the way I cringe when non-Desi friends of mine say to me, “Desi, please.” It just ain’t right. An example…

The above song is by Bohemia “the Punjabi rapper” featuring RD. And his lyrics? An excerpt:

See I don’t smoke, but I’ll smoke a Nigga. I’m a cold hearted dude, I’ll choke a trigga. You my main target, bull’s eye bitch. I bet I leave ya eye-patched like a pirate.

Desi, puuuuuuuuhleez.

This entry was posted in Identity, Issues, Language, Musings, Video by Taz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

79 thoughts on “Desi Say What?!

  1. I liked the encounter at the end, I’ve seen this divide first hand – including many well-intentioned, albeit vain attempts to mix the two crowds together. I believe the construction of the, “South Asian” identity has actually hampered the ability to form a meaningful AAPI community that is truly inclusive. In my view, it promotes an insular mentality. So, instead of collaborations like the Himalayan Project being part of the norm, a Desi & a Chinese-American Hip-Hop duo is still a bit of a novelty in our own communities.


    This whole, “Ninja”, replacement word movement is just dumb to me – plain & simple. I think that when it’s used, it says, “I’m too cowardly to use the N-word for fear of public retribution, but I REALLY want to be down and use it somehow.” It’s obnoxious, you’re referring to someone as a hired burglar, kidnapper, assassin (ie. CRIMINAL) and the color association is a convenient bonus!

    Kanwar said it on Son of a Sardar, and it made an otherwise good song sound foolish from the first verse:

    “land of five rivers gives birth to these live ninjas they didn’t want us to survive but we ride ninja i represent the punjabi pride for life ninja for the khalsa we fight and die ninja, my ninja!”

    Personally, I think you either take your chances with using the N-word & recognize that your pass to use it is on a case by case basis. Or, just not use it and find a less demeaning substitute (FYI, you’re good with “Dude”). As for Bohemia, he’s going to get some young Desi kid shot for thinking he’s hard. Try saying Panga! with a barrel in your mouth. It’s not easy….

  2. About the Indian guy at the end is just poke at the ‘are Indians Asians?’ issue. Cool video.

  3. The inclusion of Desis in the AAPI community is a relatively new one as the immigration of Desis in America didn’t really become a major factor until the 60′s. For me, I believe it is the lack of education that people are not truly aware of how large our community keeps growing. From South East Asians to South Asians to Asian adoptees to half Asians, we must constantly readjust what being an AAPI truly means.

  4. asian american activists point out that buddhism is a common point between south and east asia. a brown hindu and a korean christian are obviously religiously buddhist, but buddhism is in fundamental ways a part of the history of both south and east asia.

  5. Thanks Taz for your always incisive commentary. This question of South Asian/American inclusion in AAPI spaces is a contentious one, but I think it marks a really productive tension in the ways we conceptualize community and community organizing. I wholeheartedly agree that, as a queer South Asian/American, I sometimes feel a certain distance from identifying myself with a larger AAPI community, even as I continue to work within that paradigm. On the one hand, South Asia’s history of British colonialism makes it a little differently oriented from some other Asian communities in the US (keep in mind that what we now categorize as South Asian in the US is simply Asian in the UK). On the other hand, Asian/American and AAPI are themselves unstable categories–I think it’s too reductive to conceive of Asian/American or AAPI as necessarily coherent or tenable for East and Southeast Asian folks in the first place. What I’m trying to get at is this: while the question of inclusion/exclusion is provocative and necessary to a point, I wonder if we might reframe the question to challenge the ways that we think about community in the first place. How might South Asian/American cultural politics and community organizing force us to reconceptualize and reimagine the categories of AAPI and Asian/American, highlighting the ways in which they are continually reconstructed for specific political purposes (across the political spectrum)? Might this reconsideration point us to a alternate way of organizing, identifying, and practicing solidarity?

  6. Taz,

    As usual, you have offered yet another wonderfully written and deeply thoughtful post. I don’t think you are over-analyzing the video, and I appreciate the thoughts that crossed your mind and the evaluation you are given those thoughts.

    A lot of these terms — South Asian, East Asian, South East Asian — are academic terms, and the nature of the discourse in the area determines how and why the terms are used. Unlike in the UK, say, America’s encounters until 1960s were mostly of East Asian people. From US’s occupation of the Philippines to its WWII war with Japan, to the Korean war, to the Vietnam war (yup, America lurves war — dare I mention 20th century’s Cuba, Guatemala, Panama…etc…in addition to Iraq, Afghanistan, and now skirting Pakistan? Well, that’s off topic), the image of ASIA became synonymous with East Asia, and academic discourse also situated Asia as land east beyond Thailand — and there are still people out there who refer to South Asia as the Indian Subcontinent, as something separate from Asia.

    “South Asian” is a uniquely America hybridity negotiated term, and I encounter the tensions inherent within all the time. My international Japanese and Korean friends have no problem identifying with me as an Asian. My Asian American friends (all of two — a Vietnamese American and a Korean-American) are much more resistant to seeing me as Asian. I am not sure where that rejection of sorts comes from, but there is definitely a sense that Asia ends with the borders of Burma.

    Ash, I loved your comment. I think more desi engagement with “East Asian” politics and culture will be a step towards eroding this very definite line in the sand. There is tremendous division within desi communities — especially along religious lines — so many Muslim desis get involved in “Muslim” politics, whether Middle Eastern or otherwise, so that a South Asian-American Muslim often may find more…cultural and ideological connections with an Indonesian Muslim or an Arab-Muslim, just because the community of desi Muslims is so tiny in America. Hindu/Sikh Americans seem to align themselves more with “White” communities.

    It’s all a matter of how much presence one has. At the mosque I pray, my community of friends range from Iraqi, Syrian, Afghani, Irani, and Malaysian to European Bosnians and even Kazaks. If I were back in the desh, such a community just would not be conceivable.

    How can the “Asian” divide be reduced? Through cultural exchange. Korean dramas and Japanese shows have managed to not only infiltrate American culture, but also the subset of desi culture. Even ten years ago, I could not get my desi American friends to acknowledge Korean shows — which are HUGE in the Middle East. Nowadays, I come across Pakistani or even Bangladeshi families quoting Korean shows and music! ..

    We need to keep talking with each other, reaching out, educating, and pointing out shared histories. My Vietnamese friend shares colonial history with (French for her, English for me), but she never made the connection until we started chatting about, of all things, colonial heritage of food.

    Thanks for the post, Taz. Enjoy your Netroots trip. I voted for you!

  7. in another life, when i thought activism was consequential and cool, I remember a desi professor attempting to break the racial ice at a Collegetown training session by loudly exclaiming, “nigger,” and then waiting for the assembled college students, black and others, to be shocked. She actually asked us, “watcha think of that?” as if it would a be a hammerblow shattering the facade of politeness that people hide behind when discourse gets all racial. But even by that time, it was no shock and no one cared or felt like it was time to, ‘get real.’ I’m not sure whether she was actually expected outrage or was illustrating a point but the word has become hollow.

    the real test is socializing–If you were in the company of people very comfortable with the word and were addressed as, “this/that nigga,’ would you object? I certainly didn’t. It meant I was ‘in.”

  8. I disagree, I thought the video of the Asian youths using the word ninja and speaking in stereotypical African American dialect to be tacky and racist. The problem that a lot of black people have with hip hop culture is that people think this culture is actually reflective of all black people. In fact, many blacks reject rap music and hip hop culture as inferior because it is.

    I think the reason some Asians use the word “nigger” is because in American hip hop culture it is tied to American culture. Since Asian American youth may not feel a part of the American fabric they utilize hip hop culture as a way to feel more American. It is just like the white suburban kids that listen to hip hop they like the music but it doesn’t mean they truly understand the historical context of the history of African Americans or that they care to. They like the music because it has a beat.

    the word is used so often people become desensitized to it. However, I also would like to point out many black people actually look down on the kind of blacks that use the N word as a term of endearment as low class.

  9. I’ve been puzzled, since returning to the US, about how ‘Asian’ came to mean just East and South-East Asia.

    I’d agree with the other Neha, that visitors or recent migrants from all over Asia have a broader understanding of just who and what is ‘Asian’ than many East/South-East Asian-Americans who have grown up in the US. Nevertheless, my closest friends here are first-generation Chinese and Vietnamese-Americans and I’d say they would agree that we have a shared Asian-American identity to some degree.

    Unfortunately, I’m not as active as I’d like to be, so I don’t know about the history, current standing, and compatibility of AAPI or South Asian American organizing and activism, but I definitely do feel an affinity for a broader (South/East/West/North) Asian-American community and I’d love to see more socializing and politicizing across the various Asian communities wherever they can find common ground.

  10. Very interesting subject, and definitely very relatable to today. Neha brought up a good point that many Americans, Asian, White, or otherwise, see South Asians as a whole as more of people of a subcontinent rather in the context of a whole Asia, for reasons already well covered. Because of the separation between East/SE Asia and South Asia by physical barriers, our cultures, politics, and history have been very much separated and exchange, like the spread of Buddhism is more of the exception. However seeing as South Asians are of the same race as East/Southeast Asians, and Desi Americans experience many of the same issues as East/SE Asian Americans do, it would be a beneficial thing I think to start aligning South Asian Americans more with other Asians in all spheres.

  11. One of my cousins is getting married to a chinese guy. He is decent height , fit, American, and has a very nice career. If he were Indian, her family probably would be bursting in pride at what a nice match he is. But the funniest thing here is among the cross cultural discomfort they have, they actually think he is ugly because he is Chinese!!!! She kept it quiet in her family because of this. I was wondering if this was an isolated attitude. She finally opened up about it with her extended family (her mom’s side who live in the area, I am from her dad’s side). So when he came to a family event, they announced her engagement. But back at the house, before he showed up to the city, my mom heard all kinds of comments joking about him. It wasn’t too mean or anything, but the discomfort was interesting because in school and college we, Indian Americans, tend to hang out with Asian Americans, not like family, but close enough to be like some extended family. Her parents didn’t go to school here. So I decided to do ask one of my other cousins who grewq up in India and asked her what she thought of the Chinese fiance. Her kids and I started laughing as she was trying to be polite about it “whaaaat is there to say. He is a nice guy. But poor guy, they all look like that. what can he do” kind of a sympathetic condescending statement about him.

    Not all of my Indian raised relatives think this way. But a few is enough to have me thinking. Has anyone out here experienced this kind of difference in attitudes towards Chinese Americans from Indian and indian Americans? Not just the cultural thing, but the “looks” department. You would think the fair skin would be a plus!!! ha ha. What confuses me is Bruce Lee is worshipped in India and I am willing to wager there are Indian women who were big fans of him who would have been thrilled to be married to someone like that.

  12. @Pravin – Amongst the East Asians, there tends to be a lot of ignorant things being said, especially the Korean community that I’m aware of, when it comes to their perceptions of South Asians. “Dirty”, “Unclean”, and similar insults seems to be a common thing being tossed around. What do South Asians say of East Asians?

  13. Edward Hong: It is not that common to give a general statement. But I was just surprised to see enough of a minority who have such weird feelings about chinese and their looks. Her family accepted the guy, but during one private moment, her mom asked her ” do you really like the way he looks?”. Then again, if you quizzed an Indian American, this would be the most puzzling sentiment because Harold And Kumar type friendships are very common in college. To be fair, i have heard about similar sentiments about Indians from some asian families too.

  14. Asian Americans are kind of goofy, huh? All Americans are crazy. We got all these academic and political yet mindless ways of being racialist. Identity crisis all over the place!

    I was just remembering how a hippety hop Indian dude I met in my high school daze said that it was ok for him to use “Nigga” because when they brought slaves from India they’d call them Niggers. And he said there are actually letters by British administrators in India during the ‘Apartheid’ times referring to the people Niggers. So, I have to mention that there is a sense of identification of the discrimination that we might find in common. I was like “ok, fine” this guy has thought about. But, I feel all awkward when people just start throwing the word around when they are trying to sound cool. I’m just now starting to remember how I used to talk back in highschool when I would listen to a lot of rap. People just start taking on personas because part of the American experience is mass media saturation and then it becomes Monkey See Monkey Do. :-P

    I liked the point you make about race terms (or is it racialisms) as a political construct. What kind of racist are you?

  15. @supun, re: your old classmate. While certainly there have been countless other British (and now American) slurs particular to South Asians, for one the “n-word” has different meanings in the British colonial context than the American one, and moreover it was most likely never used with the same consistency to refer to any group other than folks of African descent. Nor was it exclusive even to these groups. You can find references to the Irish similar in language and sentiment from the British. While these cases all have something interesting in common, they are at the end of the day not the same.

  16. The East Asian community simply has a greater and longer-standing visibility in the US, so it stands to reason that they are the default “Asian” in the US. (In the UK, obv, it’s flipped.) Economics and population alone demand the inclusion of SW Asians, if you ignore shared history (European meddling/colonization, Buddhism, tea, etc.).

    Per the n-word: It’s not something to use casually. I can pretty much tell when it’s being used derisively or maliciously and have no tolerance for it. However, I do use the word with my firang friends randomly as a stand-in for ‘dude’. Part of my upbringing, I guess, and I understand if the outsider takes offense. (Note that understanding a thing and agreeing with a thing are not the same deal.)

    “Desi, please” annoys? Talk about thin skin! I’d be impressed if a random white person knew the what the word desi meant. I could be worse, like ‘macaca, please’. Are “Bint, please” or “Beti, please” any better?

  17. Isn’t Asia just a geographical construct, rather than cultural. We wouldn’t really call Israelis or Turks asian. Depending on religion desis lean either to mideast or east/south east asia. But I would say that we have as much or as little in common with both sides. We exported our religion to the east asians, but a considerable part of the sub continent got their religion from the middle east. Our language how ever is indo-european and isn’t related to any of our neighboring countries.

    India as a country participates in both the East Asia Summit and to a similar organization in the ME that I can’t remember the name of, but in both cases I believe India is probably viewed with as much suspicion as they are viewed as partners. I would guess the western countries are probably the ones who feel least threaten by India.

    While the type of Harold and Kumar friendships is common in America, I know that no such love exists among our original countries. In fact wide spread prejudice toward chinese exists in India, and towards indians in China. In America however I guess that many indians and east asians have the same social background and parents with similar experiences as immigrants, and that is why we mix well together.

  18. @Orville you are so right but I guess folks think it is cool. I hate the word myself and I am black. Hip hop is a joke even though I like some of the song but most of it is garbage and for the nigger thing I know a guy that would kick your ass if you called him that no matter what color you are. I hate it when people pick up the ignorant parts of hip hop and cling to that. The video was stupid and chocked full of stereotypes. Paul Mooney said it best”Everybody wants to be a nigga but nobody wants to be a nigger.”

  19. Edward you seem to be referring to this incident -

    http://www.zeenews.com/news567365.html

    It seems isolated. Not sure if the prejudice is common amongst Koreans, what do you think ? In this case it is nice to see how quickly the SK govt instituted the anti-racism bill following that. Fat chance of anti-racism laws in India. We have unable to outlaw caste division of our own.

  20. That’s a bit unfair, there are plenty of anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action in India.

  21. @Yoga Fire I love the Fugees. I should have said rap not hip hop. The stuff that is out today is a crime outside of Immortal technique and some other guys.

  22. @KolaNutTechie – I’m not referring to any particular incident, I’m referring to some reactions I hear from East Asians when it comes to their perceptions of South Asians. While it does not reflect the entire community, there was one time I dated a Desi woman and I got a lot of rude jokes from peers that I was dating a dirty woman and that she would smell of curry all the time. Like I said before, “dirty” seems to be a common phrase to describe South Asians from East Asians in particular, if you really want to listen to some of the ignorant things people say about each other.

    My question is what are the sentiments toward East Asians from the South Asians’ POV? To better understand why there is such a divide, it is good to know what people are saying about each other. Do you get what I’m saying?

  23. @Edward Hong:

    The only stereotype I’ve heard was along the lines of East Asians being untrustworthy cheaters and cutthroats. My uncle especially really has a “Don’t go into business with those people. They’ll stab you in the back,” attitude. In his defense, though, he and a Pakistani fellow did go into business with a Korean man at one point and they did both get stabbed in the back by him (figuratively), so his resentment was understandable.

    Beyond that it’s the same clichéd stereotypes about eating cats and dogs and everything smelling like fish.

  24. @KolanutTechie Please don’t spread falsehoods. Caste-based discrimination is outlawed in India since Independence.

  25. In jamaica there are east asians and south asians and they speak jamaican patois. I remember I went to jamaica two years ago and the east asians were treated just like all other jamaicans. Asian people in the caribbean blend right in to the west indian culture.

  26. I can’t say i’ve heard many south asians refer to east asians in derogatory terms, but i do occasionally hear my mom and grandma refer to them as “flat-nosed” and “chinka” which always makes me uber-uncomfortable, as many browns (and members in my family) have flat noses themselves and look somewhat asian, not to mention certain groups of people that look FULLY asian in certain regions across south-asia. Brings to mind a particular group of people referred to as “chakmas” that live in the north of bangladesh and look fully asian but obviously identify themselves as bangladeshis.

    Unil recently, i always thought the attraction factor between browns and asians was weak…but nowadays, i’ve been noticing A LOT of brown guys dating asian girls (but not the other way around…could be the lack of body hair in asian men and the light skin in asian women, who knows?!)

  27. “In his defense, though, he and a Pakistani fellow did go into business with a Korean man at one point and they did both get stabbed in the back by him (figuratively), so his resentment was understandable.”

    Then surely you will understand the resentment some people harbor against OTHER ethnicities whom they’ve had merely 1, 2 or 3 bad experiences with. I guess negatively stereotyping an entire ethnicity is “understandable” in cases where we’ve had a direct bad experience with one of it’s members?

    If that’s the case, it doesn’t bode well for Desi men, since I’ve date 1 or 2 in my time and have “stories” to tell.

  28. And thus… it turns into an inter racial dating thread once again at Sepia Mutiny. Our favorite topic. ;-)

  29. And thus… it turns into an inter racial dating thread once again at Sepia Mutiny. Our favorite topic. ;-)

    You sure you want to have that thread with Pardesi Gori in the mix?

  30. FWIW, I have experienced ill-treatment by East Asians in China and South-east Asia (mostly in terms of aggressive exclusion from night-life venues, which suddenly claim to be “private clubs” even if I’ve been before with white friends with no hassle), but I have also met plenty of people living there who are quite kind.

  31. ” i’ve been noticing A LOT of brown guys dating asian girls (but not the other way around…could be the lack of body hair in asian men and the light skin in asian women, who knows?” Same as the black/white marriage gap, east/SE asian women are simply more desirable in dating market than Desi women. How many German drive a Nano, and compare that with how many Indian drive a BMW

  32. Same as the black/white marriage gap, east/SE asian women are simply more desirable in dating market than Desi women.

    That’s ridiculous.

  33. could be the lack of body hair in asian men

    really!? Here most of the guys shave their chest…Some of my desi buddies have became so conscious about this that even they want to do that..

    My question is what are the sentiments toward East Asians from the South Asians

    Some stereotypical statements i have heard: very hard-working but less smart/intelligent than Indians (that is why they do PhD not MS :D ), great silky hair & skin, flat-nose, small eyes, unclean, eats cockroaches/insects, racists & never trust them. Commonly called as ‘chinkis’ (I don’t believe in any of these except the ‘great silky hair’)

  34. as many browns (and members in my family) have flat noses themselves and look somewhat asian

    as i have said, this is true in my family too. some of them look burmese or filipino. i got sequenced by 23andme recently, and i am now very confident that i have a lot of east asian admixture. i much more east asian than the typical south asian in terms of my ancestry, and in terms of genetic cluster i lay outside of south asians and partway toward east asians (if you know of the HGDP sample, i am pretty close to the hazara and uyghur),

    this is a long way of saying that don’t hate on the ninjas brownz, we’re already among you even if you don’t know :-)

    • all the south asians seem to be between 10-30% east asian (balance is european) in using hapmap reference populations, with most in the 15 to 25 range. i’m more than 40% east asian. additionally, i’m genetically closer in total genome to a chinese person than any other south asian that the people in the 23andme forums have heard of.
  35. I’m British-Indian now based in LA, and from what I know, of UK-Indians, well east Asian (called Oriental in the UK) people don’t even appear on their radar. I’ve heard plenty of opinions about blacks and white, but never anything about them.

    From what I’ve heard amongst my US based relatives, they just think they’re racist against Indians, and they don’t know why…

    I have been to both mainland China and Hong Kong. In HK people were indifferent to me, never treated me better or worse than anybody. A lot of the time they would try to speak to me in Cantonese, they probably assumed I was a local HK Indian. In mainland China they were very nice to me, and some women did remark on how much they liked my skin colour and the fact that I hair on my arm.

    Re – the whole Asian thing – I don’t feel East & SE Asians identify with Indians at all. At university they would always hang out together, the same is true where I work. They’re not really interested in Indian culture. I have heard many disparaging remarks about India. They tell me to visit their countries, but when I say why not visit India, they give me this “are you crazy?” look.

    I’ve been on dates with Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Cambodian women in the US. Indians, blacks and whites too before anybody accuses me of having “yellow” fever…One Korean woman told me it was better to stop dating because her family would never accept me. I know a Camobodian who loves Indian men – her friends make fun of her, they ask her why she likes “terrorists”.

    From my personal experience:

    HK Chinese – look down on Indians- I studied with lots of them in UK Taiwanese – very arrogant – they look down on Chinese, and think even less of Indians. One arsehole said to me all Indians are poor; I asked him to find out how much Indians earn on average in the US. Chinese-American – depends, some are cool, some are not Mainland Chinese – mostly very nice SE Asian Chinese – mostly cool Korean-American – same as Chinese American Koreans from Korea – the most insular and narrow minded people I have ever met in my life. Not sure if they consider Indians human Filipinos – very nice Japanese-American – met very few, but OK Japanese from Japan – very cool

  36. It is not just the lack of body hair in east asian men, they have zilch facial hair too. On top of that they can be quite effeminate (for an Indian woman) in the way they carry themselves and talk. They also tend to be small built (not buffy) and their jaws can be rounded. I live in a city that is 90% chinese (though not in the US), so I have a big sample base. For Indian women, even if a man shaves his chest hair, that is better than having no hair at all otherwise what will be the difference between a man and a woman. And facial hair in men is a big thing in India.

    Someone has mentioned about how east asian women are very popular in the dating scene in the US and how Indian women are not very popular with East Asian men. I am afraid East Asian men do not seem to get a lot of support from their own women as well. In the city I live, I have noticed that East Asian women prefer white men over their own men and they get active encouragement from their families to grab a white man. This is especially common among chinese and Filipinos. Koreans always say they don’t like to mix with other races, but the way they act is quite different. Among East Asian families having a white son in law is a status symbol. In East Asia, famous actresses and models acquire a white man as a symbol of success. Also, mixed race people are very popular here (ie white with East Asian). Many advertisements that show a couple, have a white man with an east woman.

    I am surprised to see that American Indians are keen to hang out with Asian Americans in the US and identify with them. As an Indian in a chinese city, it is clear to me that we have practically nothing in common with East Asia. Buddhism is just one of the many religions from India, and East Asian buddhism is very different from Hinduism which is the predominant religion in India. This is not surprising since buddhism traveled to this part of the world almost 2 thousand yrs ago.

    Btw, Indian men are very popular among local chinese girls here!

  37. Our language how ever is indo-european and isn’t related to any of our neighboring countries.

    perhaps you should be cautious about overgeneralizing. 25% isn’t a trivial minority.

    i assume color prejudice has something to do with east asian contempt for south asians. i had korean friends who looked down on southeast asians because they were darker skinned. i have also spoken to singaporean chinese who make a distinction between the rare lighter skinned punjabis and the dominant indian community in singapore, the tamils, who are called blacks.

  38. I really cannot understand many Indian Americans’ strong desire to be associated with east Asians. Really, it seems to be at a point of miserable desperation. We even try so hard to parallel their complaints (“oh desi guys are so emasculated in the media, desi women only preferring white guys—none of which is even near to the extent of asians) as if Asians and Indians are so similar. Sorry to say guys, but we aren’t. If anything, we have more in common with the black community…but I think we know why that’s rarely mentioned. Not just skin color, but religious adherence, social/family values…etc. Even the term “south Asian” is a flimsy attempt to attach ourselves to them. If Indians want to be known as South Asians, then I say Russians (and Armenians, Georgians, etc) should petition for the term North Asian? After all, Russia does occupy most of Asia. I know Indians (from India) have negative perceptions of e Asians, but many Asians (most of whom have been here for generations) still latch to their families’ disparaging preconceptions about Indians (too dirty, too religious, we have dark skin which obviously means we’re inferior) all while Indians (raised in America) kiss their asses. east/SE asian women are simply more desirable in dating market than Desi women Now that’s more amusing than the phenomenon I described above. Honestly, I pity Asian women. Some are cute, but seem to pride themselves on being the white man’s plaything..

  39. Buddhism is just one of the many religions from India, and East Asian buddhism is very different from Hinduism which is the predominant religion in India. This is not surprising since buddhism traveled to this part of the world almost 2 thousand yrs ago.

    this is true. but please note that the therevada buddhism of southeast asia has been more closely connected with south asian sources than the mahayana traditions of china, korea and japan. there has been cross-fertilization between burmese and thai buddhists and the sinhalese relatively recently. the thai monarchy aided in the revitalization of sinhalese buddhism in the 19th century when it was being marginalized under british colonialism.

    i agree that the connection between east asia and south asia are tenuous. but the connection between southeast asia and south asia are much more substantive. even in muslim indonesia the ramayana remains popular among the javanese. the balinese and vietnamese chams are also hindu.

  40. I have a Singaporean-Chinese friend and she told me Punjabi men are very popular with Chinese women there. I read somewhere than 15% of Indian men have Chinese wives there.

  41. I have a Singaporean-Chinese friend and she told me Punjabi men are very popular with Chinese women there. I read somewhere than 15% of Indian men have Chinese wives there.

    chindians are pretty substantial numerically in singapore. it is interesting to see “chinese looking” people with tamil last names, and “indian looking” people with chinese last names.

    look, as to all this confusion about why american brownz and east asians might feel affinity, i think it comes down to six words which bind: “no, really, where are you from?” i get that the asian american identity is strange to outsiders, especially the inclusion of south asians under the umbrella. but it’s a real affinity, and comes out of the american experience.

  42. Koreans being racist against Indians is a bit rich. I mean this is the country that had to eat dog meat during the wars because they could not afford any other kind of meat. The Korean govt. also provided the American army with their own women to keep the foreign army happy way into the 1950s. Btw, this concept of offering your own women to the foreign army in order to keep them happy is common across east asia (including S’pore and Japan). They used the argument that in order for the greater social good, these women should make these sacrifices. Complete hotels were filled with local women during WWII for the pleasure of the british and the americans.

    This can never happen in South Asia, where women are considered family honour. In fact killing women in your family in order to protect their honour is the South Asian way. The partition narrative is full of stories of women either committing suicide or being killed by their own family rather than being taken hostage.

  43. @ r the reasons some East Asian women date white men is because they want access to white privilege. Some people of colour are conditioned to believe that whiteness is superior than their own communities. I remember reading an article by Jill Scott in Essence Magazine and she says people of colour are influenced by white society to beliee whiteness is superior. So until people of colour challenge these beliefs and values they will remain mentally imprisoned.

    Also, I want to point out that in North America East Asian and South Asian men have been emasculated for far too long. It is only in the last ten to fifteen years that Asian American men have become sex symbols in North America. I know some people don’t like Kal Penn and John Cho but I think the whole Harold and Kumar series is important because it shows Asian men can be sexy and masculine. I think it has taken a long time but I feel now that Asian Americans are definitely becoming a part of American pop culture. Look at M.I.A. yes she is a South Asian woman but she’s a mainstream pop star she’s beautiful, talented, smart.

  44. r, your comment is pretty ugly. it is a fact that koreans are rather racist against browns and blacks, as well as having a lot of xenophobia against the japanese. there’s no problem with admitting this. but your references to dog-eating and them giving their women to foreigners, even though true, strike me as insults meant to demean koreans.

    lots of south and east asians have bigoted attitudes toward each other. why perpetuate that on this thread? it isn’t that much of an issue for the american born cohort (i know it’s different in singapore or hong kong).

  45. @orville, if south asian men are put in the same box as east asian men in the US, then it is really sad, because south asians are effectively a completely different race of people from east asians (except for some south east asians in malaysia, indonesia). Anyone can see that visually.

    I agree about your conclusion on why east asian women prefer white men. I think it is about self image and self esteem issues. Chinese people picking up western names for themselves does nothing for one’s image of them. There is a very popular cartoon in Japan about a ‘nerdy’ white american man who moves to Japan and becomes mister popular.

  46. I remember reading an article by Jill Scott in Essence Magazine and she says people of colour are influenced by white society to beliee whiteness is superior

    the chinese and japanese are highly literate societies, so there’s plenty of data on their attitudes toward the european physiognomy. in the early modern period (before 1800) when europeans were not military more powerful than the east asian states they were considered ugly. the chinese “witch” has red hair and green eyes, the stereotypical color of europeans for the chinese. the east asian attitude toward european features only changed with the rise of white supremacy and superiority in the 19th and early 20th centuries. before the modern period japanese women with brown hair would dye their hair black, and now they dye it the other direction. before the modern era the epicanthic fold was considered beautiful, and now east asians get eyelid surgeries. white society was superior in terms of military power and economic power. now that china is on the rise i suspect that you’ll see the an amelioration of emulation of european aesthetics in east asia as the associations decline.

  47. . Chinese people picking up western names for themselves does nothing for one’s image of them.

    one reason they pick up western names is that chinese is tonal language, and non-chinese literally can not pronounce chinese names (or they pronounce them in a way that turns their name into a different chinese word!). japanese is not a tonal language, so even if you mispronounce the name, the basic phonetic outline is maintained.