11.22.2013

Building Blasian Bridges

I didn't come to Korea thinking "Hey, I'm going to find a Korean guy who is into black girls and looks like Kim Hyun Joong and he will defy his family (or his family will absolutely adore me) and we will have beautiful Blasian babies and live happily ever after"....  No, never thought that way.

Kim Hyun Joong

Back in the states, I did not date. Well, in college I went out with with some fools and did some foolish things. I played by the rule that if they didn't talk to me, then I wasn't going to talk to them. So, my dating life sucked! I had a bunch of male friends...maybe I crushed on a few, but it never went anywhere. But a month after being in Korea I had met, talked to, exchanged numbers, and hung out with more Korean guys than I had with guys in America in all of my 27 years. Hope? I want to say yes, but there's that little voice in the back of my head that goes "Girl, get a grip, these dudes ain't checkin' for you!" Surprisingly, that voice has an Atlanta hood accent. So, I just chock it up to them wanting to practice English. Because even when I bust out my Korean, they are surprised and jaws drop to the floor, but they only want to speak English after that. Yo, whats up with that!? We're in Korea, speak Korean. But how does that happen that my interaction with the opposite sex has improved 10-fold since I've been in Korea? Later, we'll dish about them.


I find that my Congolese background is so much more similar to Korean culture than it is to American culture. The honorifics for example. Many cultures use them:
An honorific title is a word or expression with connotations conveying esteem or respect when used in addressing or referring to a person who is usually older than you or in a higher position than you 
Koreans and many Asian cultures are known to use them. Congolese people are not known to use them, but we do. All the time. It goes beyond saying "Mr." or "Mrs" so and so. Then there is the bowing. Congolese people bow and go a bit further (especially women) and do a kind of a curtsy. Bend at the knees and dip. Then some even go further and kneel on their knees and bow.  Now you may think I am stretching it a bit, but I feel more comfortable in Korea than I did in Switzerland. My Korean co-workers ask me how I was raised and when I tell them, they are surprised because yes, it is very similar. 

So, is this the reason I am more comfortable? Do only skin color and distance really divide us? 

Until next time good people.

18 comments:

  1. I like the title of this post. And a belated WELCOME Silver Tiger. These posts are great.

    I keep learning more about how much West African and E/SEAsian culture have in common. Now I have to journey to Central. This is exciting.

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    1. Wow! Thanks, glad you like it. I did not realize the commonalities either until recently. Interesting stuff. I just touched on a couple things. There is so much more.

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    2. Sadly, our commonalities are small powers in the face of the racism we've been taught to practice. No wonder it is overlooked. Divide and conquer is always their strategy.

      I'll just add here that Yoruba recipes are a lot like the recipes my mom cooked for me when I was a kid.

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  2. A belated welcome from me too!

    This was interesting, as was your last post. I do find that there are a lot of similarities between African and Asian cultures as well. People are surprised here in Taiwan if I eat something most Americans find "strange" or if I ask for extra spicy things, but I'm used to Nigerian food which is "strange" and spicy to the average American. It's interesting when you notice all the little connections.

    Good luck with those Korean guys, teehee ;)

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    1. Haha! Thanks! The food thing is a big one. I love Korean food! With all its spiciness. Chili peppers were introduced to Korean food by Portuguese traders who probably got it from...oh wait for it...the Caribbean and the Americas. Thus, the spicy foods that Africans, and Latinos eat...well so do Asians...ahh so much.

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    2. ^wooooooooooo! Really???? Ahhhhh, I learned something new.

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  3. Great post, and I know exactly how you feel. Growing I remember how I never had to "prep" Asian friends when they visited our house. They acted just like Africans and there wasn't anything to fear. They knew how to speak to my parents appropriately and didn't object to things like the bedroom door staying open while we hung out.

    White American friends on the other hand....

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    1. How they speak to your parents, O-M-G. This is why I never invited none to come over.

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    2. The "prep". Yup, I remember those. I want to know too. How did they speak to your parents?
      Thanks Ank!!

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    3. I can't even remember ever having my bedroom door shut in my whole life.

      White American friends on the other hand....

      Oh jeez.

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    4. You guys were allowed to have friends in your bedrooms?!?!?!?!?!

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    5. ^lol Lor. Good point.

      Silver Tiger, white kids speak to your parents like they are their friends. They will even speak down to them if their English isn't 'acceptable', and later make fun of them to other kids at school while making racist gestures, and you're supposed to be ok with that (I roughed up a few kids for this shit in 2nd grade but you can guess who was punished and who wasn't).

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  4. Another belated welcome here!

    Those little connections are interesting, the bowing and honorifics, what will African languages be without them? I'm aware that there are some African cultures were people don't bow, curtsy or kneel (where I'm from people even lie on the floor) down to greet people but I'm not sure about any that don't do honorifics or respect to the elders in some way or the other.

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  5. Hi!

    Im Congolese myself, well, from congolese parents but born in Canada. I find this blog really interesting since im dating a vietnamese man. I think your so right when you say our culture is very similar with the asian one. I would be interested to ask you a few question about your life in Korea since I plan to go in Vietnam and have so much question about it. Btw it is so nice that you speak korean! I tried many times to learn vietnamese but it is so complicated! I dont give up tho, I'll try again for sure. Like you i speak french (my first language actually), english and a bit of lingala (shame on me...).

    Oh well, I hope I to talk to you soon!

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    1. Some of the older generation Vietnamese speak French. My dad does, and my mom speaks Quebecois since she started in Montreal. We have a common colonizer (-_-). And wow, you're going to VN? Grow that skin thick. It shouldn't be that way but it is...

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    2. @ Ankhesen Mié
      Thank you :)

      @ JNguyễn
      Yes, I knew about that, my boyfriend's grandma was speakin french. At first I was like wow she learned french here? But then my boyfriend explained to me what just said.
      And what a coincidence, I live in Montreal too! Do you or is it just your mom? And yes, I know I'll have to "grow my skin thick" when goin to Vietnam, my boyfriend told me about that... Actually Im goin to Africa, Europe and Asia, its kind of a "world tour", I'll be gone for about 10 months, so i thought I would go to Vietnam since my boyfriend is Vietnamese and I'd like to know more about his culture. But ya, he warned me that the people over there could be rough and that I could have a hard time with them... Did you ever go to Vietnam? If so, how did you find it? My bf told me that people over there are naturally a bit rude... But oh well, that's not goin to stop me, I've been waiting for this for way too long :)

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    3. Oooh a Montrealite. I have family there but I'm in NYC.

      If you want an entry into some recent Vietnamese history, including the Anti-French Resistance War, check your library for "Vietnamerica" by GBTran. It's a graphic novel based on his family history. Or if you prefer a movie, there's always "The Rebel" by Charlie Nguyen.

      And you're asking me how I find my motherland? :) But I'm going to be totally biased!
      This is how I remember it: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0BF52A9698B6451F
      There are negatives of course. The cops, the corruption, the colorism, the littering, and there is no cussing like cussing in Vietnamese but I love my people, Sandra...

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