Dear Incredibly Culturally Aware Boyfriend,
I’m writing to tell you that I am ending our relationship. Since you won’t let me get a word in during our conversations, I’ve decided to put this in a letter that you can understand. You are so wonderful, so non-racist, that I’m breaking up with you.
The thing is, even before the “Asian makeup incident” (yes, only real Asians “paint their faces white like Mulan, or like the geisha — you know, in that movie”), I truly appreciated how you wanted to understand your Asian girlfriend. And from the utterly adorable way you squint your eyes to look Asian, to how you ever so thoughtfully bring me chopsticks every time we eat together, you’ve proven that you really get what it means to be Asian. You were right, and I was wrong: you do respect my Asian culture, completely and absolutely.
I was wrong when I said that watching Kung Fu Panda three times wasn’t the perfect way to learn “the ways of the neehaw [sic].” You said that the title must remind me of my Chinese heritage. I’m not actually Chinese, but yes, all Asians are indeed Chinese.
I was wrong when I said I wasn’t just testing you like a kung fu master when you karate chopped my head from behind. As an Asian, I meditate every day under waterfalls and scream “Hai-yah!” before I break some block of concrete with my head. The concussion you gave me was just proof that I must do “kah-rah-taaay” more with my master, Jackie Chan.
I was wrong when I said my family wouldn’t want your many gift baskets containing General Tso’s Chicken, which kept coming even after we politely informed you that the dish isn’t really eaten in Asia. We have kept your lovely notes that accompanied them, which reminded us of when we worked in the rice fields with conical straw hats and drank green tea. My parents will remember it when they think about their childhoods in Oregon.
I don’t mean to be confrontational at all. In fact, I’m glad I realized just how wrong I was about everything — the complete lack of cultural appropriation and racism, the incredibly well-thought-out commentary and tutelage. The list of everything you’ve taught me just goes on and on and on.
I was wrong when I told you I couldn’t help you with your Calculus homework because I didn’t take that class and performed just average in math. You’re right; my Asian-ness blesses me with academic skills beyond comprehension. I attribute my genius to my incredibly lax Mom who is actually, as you have insisted all along, a horribly strict Tiger mom.
I was wrong when I said you shouldn’t yell “Ching” and “Chong” in public for giggles. They are indeed wonderful words in “The One Asian Language.” We especially love your patience with our own language barriers. My American parents fondly recall how you go out of your way to speak English real, real slow for them — and translate my own English expressions to them, too!
Since you just get everything about me and every Asian ever, I know I don’t have to explain why we can never see each other again, under any terms. Being with you has been the most…wonderful ride, but I feel like no one should be subject to the extreme kindness and non-racism you have always shown me. I know you will respect my wishes, and most importantly, my Asian culture.
Your “Ching Chong A Ling Long,” Never More