It Took Me Nearly 40 Years To Stop Resenting Ke Huy Quan
A terrific and thoughtful essay by Walter Chaw about internalized racism and why Ke Huy Quan is a great role model. As a Jewish man, I find this very relatable.
Given the choice of playing along or protesting, I played along. I’m great at the Asian accent as minstrelry. When I do it for my white friends even today, it never fails to bring a laugh. Assimilation was the goal, and even though I could never hide my physical difference, I could at least laugh along with their enthusiastic recognition of my perpetual alienness. I think I wouldn’t be a writer at all if I hadn’t dedicated all of my energy into being very good at English, my second language. If I couldn’t pass the sight test, perhaps I could pass the reading one. Humor branded me as not one of those “sensitive” Asians, as a guy who wouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable about asking where I was really from, and where I’m really from is Golden, Colorado. Golden is a mining town, and to this day and despite its profound gentrification, it still has a giant wooden banner spanning its main street that says “Howdy Folks!” I have spent most of my life trying to divorce myself from my parents’ culture. They’re both dead now and they went before I was strong and stable enough to repair any of the damage I did. Honestly, none of us ever had the emotional language to do the work.