Mr. Yunioshi from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, an unquestionably racist portrayal of Japanese-Americans

I think what I’m trying to say is that I love to celebrate cultural and ethnic identity, but I know that discriminating or holding a prejudice based on cultural and ethnic identity is racism.

However, my greatest dilemma in this is whether I contribute to racism. Let’s explore 3 cases.

  1. An acquaintance once asked me, when we first met, whether I liked Chinese food. She was obviously implying that I like Chinese food because I’m Chinese. This was offensive to me, but I told her, “Yes, I like Chinese food, but I’m actually Lao. Do you know where Laos is?” Of course, she had no idea — probably because she thought all Asians were Chinese.
  2. A friend once asked me whether he was correctly dancing to an Asian song. He proceeded to weave his arms upward. I don’t have much knowledge about how Asians dance (except that we fricking kill on ABDC and that us Lao can fawn like no other) ((Fawn is a traditional style of Lao dance.)) but I could tell that my friend was not interested in learning whether he was actually dancing correctly; he simply felt like doing something that felt Asian. This was offensive to me and I said, “I don’t know. I’m not Chinese.”
  3. I started trying to speak in an Asian accent. My sister is really good at it, and so I ask her to help me practice. I know a lot of Lao people that carry the accent that I try to mimic. I use the accent because I think it’s funny, but I know that all Asians don’t speak like that. Further, that accent isn’t what makes an Asian person Asian. You will not assimilate into our culture if you start speaking in a broken and drawn-out accent.

I don’t think that I directly contribute to racism, although I probably contribute indirectly. If I saw someone who wasn’t Asian speaking in a mock-Asian accent, I would be ticked — even if that person were honestly learning about Asian cultures. That is my dilemma: Why do I feel like it’s okay for me to feign an accent, but I feel like beating up non-Asians that feign the accent? Am I contributing to racism? Is it wrong or racist that I really do think Asian babies tend to be cuter? Where is the line separating a celebration of culture and a discrimination based on culture? Can only people of the same group poke fun at their group? What are your thoughts?

Image from Cult and Paste

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of medical books, blogs, and articles. The past two months have unlocked vaults containing shelves and rows of valuable insight into the profession I aim to pursue. Amidst the texts’ perspectives, I’ve singled out a specialty I might be interested in. Among two others at this point, I’m intrigued by primary care physicians, our family doctors.

Theirs is a noble role on the front lines of health care. You’d never know, though. In war, we readily recognize Marines, but we require a reminder to recognize that behind every Marine, there are a number of military personnel enabling and supporting him or her. In health care, we readily recognize the neurosurgeons and oncologists, but a reminder isn’t enough to push us to recognize the family physician. The medical practitioner totem pole, from what I gather, has carved family physicians near the bottom. That’s hardly the place for these Marines to be.

Obama has recently presented a new health care plan. I’ve no idea what I think of it since I am still trying to understand how health care works. (( is a sight that might help. One of the data the website cites is that most Americans don’t understand health care.)) What I do know, from what I’ve been reading, is that if Obama wants this universal health care, someone has to remedy the stigma that primary care physicians have been gradually scarred. Recruitment into these ranks has been decreasing, and given the lifestyle and compensation of the specialty, it appears that unless an intervention and reformation is applied, primary care physicians will soon become a sight to see. “You saw your doctor yesterday? I’m still hoping he’s received my call.”

I might want to be a primary care physician. I don’t want primary care physicians to enter the profession without ample means to reduce the weight in their bag of scholarly debt; without deserved respect from their peers and the public; without the mind of a businessman, but instead of a healer and preventer who doesn’t have to worry about whether he will be paid this hour with these — and not this — patients. Medicine — our health — is not a business, and like so many things in America, somehow it’s managed to become one.