Cultural Exchange 1 (Part 1)

I’m going to step away from the “On Appropriation” theme I’ve been working. There’s plenty more to say, but like good bread, it needs some time to rise. Also, there’s another story I’d like to start to tell before it continues to nick at my sleep.

A couple days ago I had an encounter–a Facebook encounter–that was extremely interesting. It began innocuously, as many things do, but being on the Internet, it blew up into something that might have been judged as surreal pre-social media very quickly. 

A friend from university and I were going back and forth about the “Coffee Land” segment from the show Portlandia. Having similar theoretic backgrounds we were Facebook chatting about the politics of representation in terms of Asian Americans while trying to make sense of this particular bit of pop culture. 

I was being more cavalier than normal because I am dead tired of my normal and all the stress I live with because of the tension of holding onto things normal dictates I never say. I don’t believe it was my newfound dedication to self-love via noncompliance in favor of honesty that directed the eventual route of this exchange, but rather the heavy clockwork of interlocking systems of oppression manifest in one young man’s sense of entitlement and guilt. Even so, it was still incredibly difficult quell my own sadly typical knee-jerk reaction of self-blame. 

If this writing, which alludes to an event but has yet to describe it chafes at you, I apologize. As I think through the exchange, I find ever more ways of representing it. Each seems true and a lie by omission, and I believe that this project–whatever this project is–deserves more clarity than I have to give from this exact vantage point.

Luckily there is the possibility of tomorrow.

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