White People Just Don't Understand

I have friends that aren't asian, and of course my other asian friends had friends who weren't asian. This really shouldn't come as much of a surprise. What these non-asian, generally white friends had in common was not understanding how our home life was different. Many of them understood that it was different, but would attempt to apply solutions which were relevant for their situations rather than ours. Amongst the asians this is really brushed off as just "white people don't understand." We would tell our white friends that they just couldn't understand the enormity of the differences.

Now, I feel that this was unfair and lazy of us. We used this as an excuse rather than try to explain it more thoroughly. I do still believe that to some extent the understanding can't be had without actually having lived through it, but a close approximation of understanding can be obtained. I hope to give an explanation of the situations here and give other asians a basis to explain their own situations.

Doing something that is considered inappropriate. That basically sums up all the transgressions an asian could have.

This includes staying out late, dating, smoking, drinking, not greeting elders appropriately, making faces, getting bad/mediocre grades, being loud, not being manly enough, not being girly enough, being lgbt(qqa), living with the opposite sex and any number of other shameful things. Now, these things in various white families are also considered shameful and can't be discussed especially the lgbt population. The difference is in an asian's attitude toward the problem. We must hide any and all deviant behavior from our parents because to reveal to them that these things are going on is not opening a door to any sort of discussion. It is in fact opening a door to lectures, shame, and guilt.

I'm not talking about your average I feel bad that I've done something wrong kind of guilt. Guilt and shame here equate to your whole family being bad people. Let me unpack this for you. Most people agree that they don't want to be a bad person and that their family is generally nice with some crazies here and there. In an asian family, what you do is a reflection of who you are (this is pretty standard in non asian settings I know). What you do and who you are is a reflection of what kind of people your family is(I'm talking you, your siblings, your parents, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins). Now when you do something wrong, it is ingrained from birth that it's because you are not good enough. If you were good, you would not be doing things that were not good. This means you are a bad person. Because you are a bad person, your parents must not have done a good job in raising you. Therefore, your parents are bad people and none of their kids could be particularly good. Follow this logic, and suddenly you've tarnished everyone in your family. Everyone in a family is connected

Another part of this guilt cycle is that respect is very important. By not acting in an acceptable manner, you are being disrespectful to your parents who deserve respect because of all they have put into raising you. They in turn are unable to show their parents (your grandparents) that they've lived up to what is expected from them and have in essence failed your grandparents. If you can picture the amount of weight and pressure this has, then you can begin to understand why we don't just talk to our parents about these situations.

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