What’s the point in telling me that I’m Asian?

I am Chinese and Japanese. I know that I am Chinese and Japanese. (I’m even extra aware now that people ask me about it in every conversation).

But people love to remind me of this. To take a recent example, as the pathfinders walked the 300 feet to transfer buses in Kampala, about half a dozen people felt the need to remind me.

“You are Chinese”

“Hey Chinese”


“You are Japanese”

Sometimes they managed to remind me that I was a woman too.

“Korean mama” (followed by a kissy face) Yay. Intersectionality.

Oh gee. Thank you. I was completely unaware of that fact. Thank you for telling me that I am an Asian Woman.

Pointing out our looks isn’t a rare occurrance though. As you may have read from Wendy’s post, the children love to call out “muzungu! muzungu!” (white person) as we walk by.

I don’t mind that. It’s like if you were to see ¬†something strange roaming down the street – they’re telling their friends and trying to get our attention. It’s fine.

But the constant reminders of my ethnicity bother me more. The way the men say it (I have yet to see a woman do this) is in a soft voice so it is just loud enough for me to hear. It is not one of excitement or wonder like the children. It’s not even loud enough to show off their knowledge of what others look like. I wouldn’t mind someone shouting it out loudly – I would be able to understand that.

I know it’s directed at me and no one else. They don’t do it loud enough for others to hear, and they say “you’re Chinese”. It’s not meant for anyone else’s ears. ¬†And for what purpose? What’s the point of torturing me with all of this? WHY?

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