- Season 1, Episode 6: Intercultural and Interracial Relationships
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Jeanette: [00:00:00] I mean, I’ve met people who are not really that favorably disposed towards interracial marriage because they believe that you know, marriage itself is hard enough.
Jeanette: So, you know, why, why make it harder by marrying somebody who’s from a completely different cultural background.
Susan: So I’ve been really thinking about race lately, right? Like why is it that I only had crushes on white guys growing up? You know, like, why is it that when I masturbate, I could never get off. If I was in the main character, like it had to be a white dude in a white girl.
Susan: Right. And so I was like, thinking, wow, like I have so much internalized racism or, and so then thinking about that, and then I’ve been thinking about art’s favorite book called Pat the bunny.
Kate: Oh my gosh. I just threw right
Kate: version away today. Not threw it away, but like she ripped it. So I’m [00:01:00] done.
Susan: She really liked it.
Susan: Right. I don’t know if she like ripping it.
Susan: Sure. Yeah. Right. But anyways, kids are really into Pat the bunny. Right. It’s a very textural book. And the kids, the two kids, Paul and Judy have super yellow blonde hair and they’re the main characters and they can do all these things. And like art just loves it.
Susan: And I was thinking, I was like, Oh my God. Like my internalized racism probably started a long time ago. And I went to go get a permanent marker and I colored their blonde hair black, and I’ve been posting it on Instagram and all these mommies are like, yeah. And I was like, I’m ready to decolonize all of arts books, you know, because I think like w who you see as possibilities as a main character.
Susan: Yeah. It, it happens at a really young age. And so I’m connecting this to what we’re talking about today, which is interracial and intercultural romantic relationships, because at the same time, it’s like, [00:02:00] what, how light-skinned is your partner? Right. Or like, were there certain races that you thought were a category of eligible or not eligible?
Susan: Or when did that change? Like, for me, I didn’t start dating Asian guys until my late twenties and every time it’s because they like hounded me and I was like, okay, well, no one else is jumping on me. So I guess we’ll date, but I’ve only heavily pursued white guys, you know? And so I was just kind of like, Whoa, like, what is that?
Susan: Is this really about Ken and Barbie and Disney? Or is it actually all the media I’ve ever been exposed to, especially movies growing up? You know? So anyways, that was my story about like I’m decolonizing all of arts books, because I want him to know that he can be a main character and like what we saw with the spot shootings it’s like these victims were not humanized, whereas with the Colorado shootings.
Susan: Those folks were mostly [00:03:00] white except for the Serbian refugee. And they were immediately humanized of what they left with their lives. You know, like this person was into gardening. This person was into making Halloween costumes. And it was like, do you know the woman in her seventies who was a front desk manager?
Susan: Like what she was into you don’t, you know, and I think constantly, like, because we’re not centered as people of color, we get erased, we’re invisible. And with that, like my sexual fantasies, I was invisible for a long time and my husband found it extremely disturbing. And I’m like, it’s like an active practice of mine.
Susan: So yeah. Let’s, let’s talk about. Interracial relationships. I guess RIAA is probably going to
Kate: be really thinks she’s going to be an animal. Cause all the main characters in our favorite books. And
Kate: we don’t have any white people. I’m kind of glad that she reposted Judy because I had the same feeling where I was going through the book and I was just like, these guys are
Susan: so [00:04:00] white. Like what your finger through mommy’s ring. I was like this ring, if we lose this ring, like we’re out a couple of grand y’all
Jeanette: I didn’t get this book for Ruth. Somehow I slipped. It’s not always great.
Susan: It was gifted to me too. It’s like bound with like the little spiral rings that you would bound, like your reports in high school.
Kate: Hmm. Interesting. It’s a very classic, book item.
Susan: I love it. I’ll have black hair now.
Susan: So I’m curious, like. Did y’all have like certain crushes on certain races or have you always like tasted the rainbow or what?
Kate: That’s a really funny question. So I have always, so have
Jeanette: pretty much mostly had
Kate: white guys since high school, except weirdly enough, the first boy I kissed when I was like in elementary school, [00:05:00] actually the
Jeanette: two boys.
Susan: my gosh. I started over elementary school. This, I know it like by the portables.
Kate: I never felt sorry. No, they were both Asian though. Isn’t that weird because that was the most accessible. Right. But then my fantasy kind of like use Susan, like the crushes I had on in high school were like all white and they were not only white.
Kate: They were also athletes.
Susan: Right. Yeah. These
Kate: were totally harder back of our football team was my calculus class. And he was a smart quarterback, but like white or like, you know, the baseball player who was dumb as fuck, but really hot. Oh, I’m sorry. It’s true. Right. But like, at the time I was like, I was just like, Oh my God, she’s so unattainable.
Kate: I think I can, like, you’re an idiot, Kate, you’re this like high school student, you’re Asian, but you’re like pretty smart and like way
Kate: and yet, and yet you’re just like drooling over this white guy who has a brain, the size of a peanut, you know,
Susan: on many of those peanuts. [00:06:00] Totally. So, and then, and then what shifted for you, Kate?
Susan: Like you are married to an Indian dude,
Jeanette: like in case it’s like, not clear. I know I like
Kate: never dated an Indian dude before. It’s not funny. I like mostly dated white guys and then some Asian guys. And like a couple of half Asian guys, but then I went with like,
Susan: I don’t know, not, I
Kate: mean, sorry, by Asian.
Kate: I mean, Asian, sorry. We have to clarify it. What’s interesting is my husband actually does not identify as Asian. He said, you Asian people I’m like, what do you mean? You Asian people. You’re also Asian. He’s like, no, no, no, no. To me Asian means East Asian, which is also really interesting. Right. Cause like, to him, you specifically have to say South Asian to mean like Indian,
Susan: but I mean it’s.
Susan: Yeah, but he doesn’t, he doesn’t categorize South Asian into the bucket of Asian.
Kate: No, well not for himself. Right? When you hear the word Asian or Asian-American he thinks [00:07:00] East Asian,
Susan: what does it mean? It’s fair. But then you see, he doesn’t think Southeast Asian and we’re also a different breed.
Kate: Huh. Yes. So I think he would think of Southeast Asians is also maybe Asian, but he primarily thinks of Asian as like Korean, Japanese, Chinese.
Susan: And then we didn’t even talk about all the countries that in and Stan, Stan uses Pakistan
Jeanette: central Asians.
Susan: Right. Okay. So then, so then you eventually migrated Kate, like, and you identify as Chinese American and then you eventually migrated, right?
Susan: She didn’t no, sorry.
Kate: Pause. That is also an interesting question. So I was very much against being called a hyphenated American for the longest time, because I grew up in a very white town where there were like, not very many people of color and in high school, you know, there’s some Asian people, but it was like really white.
Kate: In fact, the most diversity came at my high school, came from our mural, which was 80% black. Like we had a whole black [00:08:00] gospel choir. This is like very classic Pacific Northwest, like liberal, white guilt. Right? Oh, we don’t have any like people of color in our high school. So let’s paint them on the murals anyway.
Kate: All that to say, like, we didn’t really have very many people of color. And so. I just didn’t even know, like what Asian-American men. So I went to college and I was like, what is all this like weird Asian American stuff? And I was like, I’m, I was like, I’m American, but originally from time, that’s how to explain myself to everyone.
Kate: Now, of course I understand Asian American can encompass a lot of things, but then it interesting for the longest time, I just had a hard time identifying as either Asian American or even Chinese American hyphenated.
Susan: Yeah. I, I remember I grew up in Northern California and on some weekends, my brother would take me to San Francisco, the big city.
Susan: And we went to this Asian American festival and I bought this shirt that said, God rice for like $20. And I thought it was so cool. And I was in, in an all white high school and I don’t think other people thought it was that [00:09:00] cool. But that was one of the first times when I was aware of my Asian Americanist.
Susan: But even then I would say I didn’t fully embrace my Asian Americanist until my late twenties. Like maybe I went to some of the triple, a Harvard events and I was in the Harvard Vietnamese association, but there was still a little bit of a resistance on that. Like I was just like, come on. Why do we have to like, think about these labels?
Susan: Why can’t we just be people? But I realized that the solidarity of this community to hold the pain that we go through, the unspoken pain, like so much that is never talked about, which is why we’re doing this podcast. I didn’t realize the value of it and how much I needed it until I was in my late twenties.
Jeanette: And Susan, your mayor, your, you identify as Vietnamese American,
Susan: and I’m married to a Korean American Canadian Canadian, but he’s he’s, if you look at him, he looks full Korean, but he’ll identify as Korean American Canadian that was grew up, grew up [00:10:00] in Hong Kong. So very confusing. I didn’t
Jeanette: know that. Yeah.
Jeanette: When you say, when you look at him, he looks like full Korean. What do you mean? Like culturally or, or in terms of his ethnic heritage?
Susan: He looks Korean American. What I’m trying to say is when you add on these hyphens, you think, Oh, is he like a third Korean? You know, like Korean, American, Canadian, I anyways, whatever, he’s Korean passing, he’s Korean passing.
Jeanette: I mean, he’s Korean. Like what do you mean? He’s Korean passing. Like, he’s not, I just want it. And then he’s passing
Susan: has Korean try to say he’s 100% Korean. He was born in Korea and came over on a visa, but he really identifies as Canadian. And he’s not half or anything. I’m just just saying he, he looks Korean, but he has
Jeanette: Yeah. Well, there’s [00:11:00] your ethnic heritage, like your genetics and like where your ancestors are from. Right. And then there’s your nationality. So you’re saying that he’s Korean in his ethnic heritage, but in terms of his nationality and maybe his cultural identification, he’s Canadian and American.
Susan: Totally. Like I eat more punch on. Then he eats poutine. Like he loves, he loves his French fries and he loves his Italian pasta. And I can like go to town on the jig gaze. You know what I’m saying? I
Kate: can relate because, you know, even though my husband like Indian American, because he’s born here and he doesn’t really know anything about Indian history, whereas even before I met him, I was like reading up all about the mogul empire.
Kate: I could name like all the emperors and I was reading like modern Indian literature and he’s just like, Doesn’t know anything about that. Isn’t that interesting? I don’t know if it’s like coincidental that we both married, like [00:12:00] Asian people who are not really into their
Susan: cultural heritage.
Susan: Yeah. Like Mrs. Kim bought us like a one of those pots to make soondubu in, what are they called? Clay pot. Yeah. Clay pot. And she gave us like munchies, Korean cooking or something. So I like spent one night reading the entire cookbook. And then I started understanding suffixes for words. And then I was like, trying to understand, like to learn more about Korean culture.
Susan: And then I started taking a Korean language class at city college because I was like, so into it, you just, I mean, why not? You know, and he wasn’t and like one day we might go to South Korea and I’m so pumped. I’m so pumped and he does not care.
Jeanette: Yeah. Well, what
Kate: about you, Jeanette? You’re the one, not to point fingers, but you’re the one who ended up marrying the white dude. So
Jeanette: what, but what was it like? [00:13:00]
Kate: Sorry, sorry. Hang on James. I feel like poor Jake. He’s going to be like guys,
Jeanette: ladies, like we’re shitting on him. I mean, I think that this is part of his kind of self-deprecating endearing persona.
Jeanette: I yeah, I mean, I think that it’s interesting, right? So I’m Korean American in terms of ethnic heritage, I’m a hundred percent Korean. Half of my grandparents are from North Korea. Half of my parents are from South Korea. I speak Korean. I was born in Korea. I eat Korean food. I cook Korean food, you know, I’m pretty Korean, or I’m pretty rooted in that culture.
Jeanette: And Jake, my husband is white American. His father’s side is mostly of English heritage and his mother’s side is mostly a Swedish heritage. His dad’s side came to the us, like, I don’t know, like many, many, you know, like two or 300 years ago. And then [00:14:00] like his mom’s side were more recent immigrants, I think like his great-grandparents immigrated to the U S from Sweden.
Jeanette: So, but like kind of waspy . Well there’s just like so many layers, right? I mean, even in these conversations, I feel a lot of different emotions, right. In partaking in the conversation. And. And even the experiences that I’ve had walking around, being an Asian woman, walking around with a white guy, I think that there’s a lot of loaded assumptions.
Jeanette: And there’s a lot of history there. You could tell from previous episodes the little dating experience I had before meeting Jake, I dated both Asian and white guys.
Jeanette: And yeah, I don’t know. When I was younger, I thought I would end up with a Korean person because I thought that they would understand me more and I thought it would be easier because they would understand me more. But I think that where I landed now, [00:15:00] Is that? That there’s like a lot of variability of values and norms are within a culture I don’t think it’s a very sure bet to say I’m going to marry somebody from X culture or somebody who shares my cultural heritage, and they’re going to really understand where I’m coming from and share all my values.
Jeanette: Right. I think it’s like very highly likely that they’re going to defer or their families is going to differ in important ways from how you want to live your life, how your family has brought you up. What’s important to you that it’s not that much less likely that you’re going to meet somebody who’s who’s more aligned with you on those things from a different cultural background.
Jeanette: That’s kind of become my working theory. Right. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you guys or what your thoughts are on this area. I mean, I’ve met people who are not really that favorably disposed towards interracial marriage because they believe that [00:16:00] you know, marriage itself is hard enough.
Jeanette: So, you know, why, why make it harder by marrying somebody who’s from a completely different cultural background. But I think my view on it has been well, even if I had married somebody who’s Korean or Korean American. I feel like the odds are pretty good that I’m going to be totally not aligned with them on a bunch of things to the same extent or more than I am aligned with Jake.
Jeanette: So yeah, I don’t know. What do you guys think? Well, based on
Kate: my experience and so forth, I would actually agree with you Janette because gosh, I didn’t like kids just flipping through her mental dating history. You know, I dated like, even though I had all the cards on the white guys, but I always said, I’d end up marrying someone who was like Chinese American because of the cultural aspect.
Kate: You know, I grew up speaking exclusively our dialect at home. Like I was really into reading Chinese literature and translation, blah, blah, blah, similar to you, right, Jeanette. I was like, you gotta end up with a Chinese dude or at least like someone who’s like totally fluent in Chinese. And in fact [00:17:00] one ex-boyfriend was like, I don’t think we can get get anywhere because I only see you marrying someone who speaks Chinese or is Chinese.
Kate: And I was like, what’s, how’s that for you to decide? Right. White person. And then I remember I did dated another guy who seemed like he would be the perfect fit for me because he’s also Chinese American went to Harvard. Like we had a lot of superficial similarities, but I realized in this speaks to what you were saying, Jeanette, from a values perspective and a character perspective.
Kate: We just did not have the same, like values about life. And I think that is really important when you live with someone the direction that you want to head, you know, in with this person, it’s not just, Oh, we both eat like Chinese food. And we both know who was like the last emperor of the Ching dynasty or, you know, all this other cultural stuff, which is important, but can also be very shallow compared to the most important thing, which is, you know, do you share like fundamentally the same values and the same vision for life.
Kate: And I think while that can be informed by [00:18:00] cultural background and you know, upbringing, it’s not exclusively defined by
Susan: it. Right. So, so interesting that your, about values and vision for life. Because I think with my dad anyways, it was, he never brought up either of those words, you know, it was like, you just need to make sure you have an easy life and they understand you marry Vietnamese.
Susan: You know, like he wasn’t, he never used those amazing words, like values and visions for life. And I wonder if that’s like our hyphenated American part of our ourselves where we’re like, that’s that, that’s what we know will produce like a better companionship over time, right. To have that alignment.
Susan: But for me personally, I was I never thought I would marry a Vietnamese American because in terms of the standards of Vietnamese, beauty and feminine behavior, like I struck out, you know, in a bad way, like I was kind of tomboyish, very outspoken, did whatever I wanted to do, you [00:19:00] know? And I didn’t care about conformity at all.
Susan: And, and so I saw that the Vietnamese girls that were praised were like really petite soft-spoken. And obedient, to be honest. And, and I know there’s this like judgment around Asian women, the expectation to be like submissive and docile, but like, I mean, to be super Frank, like that’s what was valued and that’s what my dad and my mom continuously wanted me to be like, which is in a way, instead of saying that it’s submissive as a negative thing, it’s like, it’s actually quite respectful, right.
Susan: Like to, to behave in a certain way. And so I actually thought it would be a nightmare to marry a Vietnamese person because I thought I would always get in trouble or they’d always be mad at me or something. And so for me, it’s like, I, I dated or hung out with the rainbow, the entire rainbow, and actually Asian folks were like on the last stop because I just, I felt so [00:20:00] rejected.
Susan: I felt like I, I, so didn’t fit into those molds that I never even considered it until these folks started like. Jump in my bones. And then I was like, okay, cool. You know, I wonder how much of it is, you know, my own internalized racism that I, I didn’t consider them, but I think a lot of, part of it is there’s a lot of actually expectation of what Asian females should be to your Asian partner.
Jeanette: I can relate to some expenses and I mean, I think we have pretty different personalities at least superficially or like how we come across, but yeah, I
Susan: thought you described yourself as pointy the other week.
Susan: I’ll be pointing to.
Jeanette: Yeah. I mean, I am very pointy. Like you, I have a hard time holding my tongue. I will let you know exactly what I think and feel. So yeah, I think that in that respect, even though like one part of my mind, like I mentioned before, I thought it would be easier [00:21:00] with my family.
Jeanette: And just like understanding if I ended up with a Korean or Korean American guy, I think there was like another part of me that felt like, Oh, am I going to be accepted right. For who I am, because I am very outspoken. I am not very submissive at all. And I’m pretty independent. And yet, even though it’s like these standards of beauty, right. I mean, like I would go to Korea and people would always tell me, Hey, like I have freckles a lot of them on my face and, you know, people would always be like, Oh, Hey, like, you know, you know, there’s like a laser treatment for that.
Jeanette: Right. I mean, I would get like, constantly like these questions about like what some procedure that I could do to like fix some aspect of myself. And I just wasn’t really interested. Right. And so I think there was this aspect of it where I wasn’t sure I was going to be accepted. And, and I hesitate to say that because I think it can come across as I don’t know, like self hate or like, hate towards like [00:22:00] your own it reveals inner conflict, right.
Jeanette: Within the group that you identify with, like within the group of Korean Americans for me. Right. I both. Love aspects of that culture and that community. And there’s aspects of it where yeah. I feel in conflict and I don’t feel completely accepted.
Susan: Well, I mean, in Korea, based on what I know is there’s, there’s just different pressures, right?
Susan: If you submit your resume, you you’re going to have your picture on it. And you’re competing against other people visually on a visual level. And so there’s this pressure to get plastic surgery. Whereas tonight, like you went to Harvard, like you have privilege and you have a great plan B you know, in America where you, you have that certificate and that allows you to have a lot of open doors for you.
Susan: You get what I’m saying like that maybe that you didn’t, you don’t even feel that pressure because you do have that privilege of being in [00:23:00] America with a great degree.
Jeanette: Right? Yeah. But even growing up when I was a kid, you know, I would get those comments. Right. And it goes, it just goes beyond criticism of looks too.
Jeanette: Right. I mean, when I was a kid, I used to go to Korea with my family. And even before I opened my mouth, people would know I didn’t grow up in Korea. Right. Just because of the way I hold myself, the way I made direct eye contact, the, you know, just my body language.
Jeanette: And so I think that’s just the immigrant story, right? It’s just, you’re always half in, half out wherever you are. You know, in America you feel half in half out. Like I am, I am up here, but I’m like not always feel accepted here I go to where I’m my, where my family’s from. And I also feel that way.
Jeanette: Right. And so that is just part, I think, of the immigrant immigrant experience.
Kate: Well, there’s also the forcing you to choose. I remember going back to China when I [00:24:00] was a kid be with family, which I love by the way, during the summers. And then I would always get the question from Chinese friends and family.
Kate: Oh, do you feel more American or Chinese? And they would try to pigeonhole me, like, for example, it’s like in the U S when I was five and I’m fully fluent in speaking to Johnny, Alex, but my reading and running are kind of like sixth grade level. Right. So I want him to be like, Oh, you know Oh, wow. You don’t know all the Chinese idioms.
Kate: I’m like, well, duh, like I go to school in the U S but then on the other hand, they’re like, Oh my gosh, what you haven’t watched all these American TV shows that we watch. So it’s like, they expected me to be both, which was really annoying or choose. Like the dumbest question was if China and the U S went to war, who would you side with?
Kate: I’m like, Are you effing me? I’m like 10 years old. Don’t ask me these weird ass questions. Right. But like, and then in the us, of course, as I got older, I’d get these like nice older, white got nice older white people being like, Oh my gosh, your English is so good. I’m like, yeah, bitch. I came here at, you know, five and a half and my English is probably better than 99.9% of white Americans.
Kate: So take that. But you know, like for the longest [00:25:00] time, you’d get people trying to pigeonhole you on both sides. In the worst thing I think for me was that I felt like I had to choose. And like, maybe there’s something wrong with me if I didn’t really, you know, fulfill the expectation. It was not until I think I was in my late twenties, early thirties.
Kate: That I realized, I was just like, you know, fuck that shit. Like, I’ll be who I am. I can be a chameleon and it’s totally okay. Why do I have to be like this one thing that’s fixed in, you know, anybody’s minds, but you know, it was really painful for a long time. And so I’m going to ask something, Jeanette, I think all, I think a lot of immigrants do feel kind of torn, but I feel like there’s also a group, at least I’ve noticed among my friends whether one and a half or a second gen, they just pick a group.
Kate: Like they basically pick I’m going to marry a white person. I’m just going to like be all out there American. And it’s just easier. Right? Because you don’t have that dichotomy. You don’t have the nature of being a chameleon. And I think it, sometimes it’s easier and I can understand that, but I see that a lot too.
Kate: I don’t know if that’s something that you guys have.[00:26:00]
Jeanette: I mean, we all have inter ethnic or interracial. Biracial kids. Right. And you know, that whether they will feel like they have to choose in a way that’s somewhat parallel to our own experience as immigrants, but also different. I mean, as superficial as it is, like the visual count a lot.
Jeanette: Right. And they have a big impact on your life and we all
Susan: look Asian,
Jeanette: whereas you know, my kids, they look mixed. So if the experience is going to be different for them, right. Not only is their community mix, but the way like a stranger looks at them and assesses which group they belong to, it’s going to be kind of between these two worlds or two groups, two communities.
Jeanette: And so, you know, something I think about for them, like how do I help them navigate that? Are they, will they. [00:27:00] Feel like they have to choose.
Susan: You, you don’t really know what your kids are going to experience yet, but what we do know about is what it’s like to walk around with your partner that looks different than you.
Susan: So me and Marvin, you know, I’m getting these American and, and Marvin Korean, and I don’t know, like when I look at Asian people, I can kind of. Figure out which country they’re from or region and Kate and I had a really great discussion about this once. But I don’t know if white people can distinguish between Vietnamese people in Korean so much.
Susan: And I have an extremely round face. And even in Vietnam, people are like, are you from Korea or Hawaii? And I’m like, where’d you get Hawaii from? So, I mean, so I’ve never felt any conflict walking around with Marvin, like I’ve never felt any judgment or anything because we both look Asian, but I was wondering for both of you, since, you know, Kate you’re Chinese, you’re with an Indian American Jeanette, you’re Korean and you’re with a [00:28:00] white guy.
Susan: Do you ever get, what’s your experience like, do you ever get, looks, do you ever really are conscious of the fact that you two don’t quote unquote match visually? Or is it kind of not really a thing?
Kate: Good question. So when I was living in Beijing and you know, never would come and visit. It was really interesting to see all the timings people’s reactions.
Kate: Right. And be in a cab. And, you know, the taxi driver would always be guessing where he’s from, but, you know, and then some of it was like, sort of just very superficial racism. Like, Oh, you have darker skin, you must be from here or, or whatever. But it was, I don’t, I didn’t feel like it was you know, because I felt so comfortable in Chinese society.
Kate: I didn’t really feel that it was that
Susan: different. For us
Kate: there, even though visually it looked, you know, very different. Whereas actually, an ex-boyfriend of mine, who’s totally white, very Midwestern tall. Like when he came China that drew more attention. Right. Because like visually, somehow he just stood out more [00:29:00] that interesting.
Kate: And then here are the U S actually nerve. And I have this joke where we feel like, you know, before it was like, Juju, guns were a thing. You guys remember? It’s like half Jewish, half Asian. It was like the power couple slash you know, like the children were like,
Jeanette: I don’t like the tiger mom,
Kate: like exactly.
Kate: That mom professor and her husband. Right. They had like Jewish and kids and then Nirvana are now like, no, no, no fusions are like, so nineties, the two thousands are Chindia and kids. Yeah, so Indians are like the new jujuin. You
Susan: know I just thought that was a hashtag you made up
Kate: no, actually, you know where the word Indian came from Singapore, because there are a lot of Indians and a lot of Chinese there and a lot of Indian couples and kids.
Kate: So it’s actually more, it’s newer here in the U S but it’s not seen as a negative word or connotation in Singapore. So we are an Indian couple with Indian kids. And I think in our circles actually, which I know is like a very [00:30:00] privileged, small circle. We actually know a bunch of Chindia and couples with Chindia and kids.
Kate: So it’s like almost kind of normalized for us. Yeah. Anyway, so
Susan: I remember when I was in India, there was Chinese cuisine, but done Indian rice
Kate: restaurant had a Chinese menu. They have like mentoree and noodles or something.
Jeanette: Yeah. It’s
Kate: Yeah. It’s it’s it is. Yeah. It’s generally pretty, pretty good.
Kate: So I think, you know, I guess it’s not as I think in college, I would’ve thought that to be like, not weird, but unusual. Cause I never thought of dating an Indian dude. Not that I was against it, but now I feel like, you know, things, a lot of things are changing and I don’t feel that it’s common to have our combo so to speak especially here in Seattle, right where there’s so many Indian people and so many Chinese people because of Microsoft and Amazon.
Kate: So I feel not super conspicuous, but maybe if we went [00:31:00] elsewhere, like the Midwest, right? Like my, my in-laws live in like Southern India. So when I go there, I like definitely feel like we stand out, but it’s as much that we’re, you know, Asian as it is that
Jeanette: we’re a mixed couple.
Susan: Yeah. I feel like my attitudes towards couples have changed over time.
Susan: Like when I was in college and I saw Asian people with Asian people, I was kind of judgy. And I was like, Oh, what are you not open to dating other races? Like, are you not comfortable? Or, and it came from a very negative place, but because it was my own rejection of feeling like I wasn’t Vietnamese enough for Vietnamese guys.
Susan: But now I’m just like, who cares if you’re happy? You’re happy. Like the divorce rate is so high that if you can actually last, no matter who you’re with, that’s great. And if you’re actually happy, that’s great. But I feel like I had to mature over time with my own issues. But you Jeanette, I mean, your husband is Caucasian.
Susan: And [00:32:00] did you ever get actual judgment from people or, or was it all in your head?
Jeanette: No. I think that there was like a pretty explicit judgment. I mean, I think it’s interesting Kate, because. You know your experience, like at least in the us. Right. And it kind of sounds like maybe in China, too, I mean, there’s not just as much historical baggage with that combination, right.
Jeanette: There’s not like a history of Indian people oppressing Chinese people on a widespread scale or vice versa. I think what is different. And I was actually talking about this with my therapist today in the light of the whole stuff that happened in Atlanta and with like, you know, these women having worked in massage parlors yeah, there’s just a history and it goes beyond you know, this kind of like jokey, like thing that goes around about like Asian fetish, right?
Jeanette: Like white guys having Asian fetish. I mean, it [00:33:00] goes beyond that. Before I get into that. I mean, so Susan, just to directly answer your question, like yes. When we were in college there was this very like striking experience where Jake and I were walking around, like downtown Boston, Chinatown, and like elderly Asian gentlemen, ran in front of us in front of the street as we were walking down and just like started yelling at me in, in I think, Mandarin.
Jeanette: And there, there was another instance where you know, I where Jake was working in Hong Kong one summer when we were in college and I went to visit him and like a similar thing happened. And, and then there’s kind of. More internalized stuff too, not as like explicit. And this is kind of where the weight of like history comes in.
Jeanette: Jake when I was visiting him that summer in Hong Kong, he was in charge of planning our trip. Well, like our, our kind of travels [00:34:00] around that area while I was visiting. And, you know, Jake, I think he didn’t really think much of it. We were in college, he was, we were both pretty cheap and he had booked like a pretty shitty hostel for us to stay at in Hong Kong.
Jeanette: And I felt like the looks that I was like getting walking into that hostel with my white boyfriend were just like, I just, I felt like maybe this was all in my head, but I like, felt so much like judgment, you know, from the people looking at
Susan: us like, like people thought you were a prostitute or yeah. Yeah.
Jeanette: And I was like, so angry at Jake. Like, why did you bring me to a place like this? Why did you book a place like this? Like, don’t, you know how this looks don’t, you know, how this would make me feel. And you know, he didn’t, he didn’t really have much of a clue at that time, you know? And I think that that is part of his white privilege, right.
Jeanette: Is like, just not the privilege to not know. [00:35:00] But you know, the, the, the fact of it is like, you know, in history, like through the Korean war and in the Vietnamese war II, right, there was like, at least in Korea, there was basically government sanctioned, prostitution of Korean women to both Japanese soldiers as well, American soldiers, comfort,
Kate: comfort, comfort with us.
Kate: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jeanette: And, and, and the dynamics there are like so incredibly complex, right. So it’s not just, yes, of course. There were. White and Japanese colonialist who came and, you know, colonized effectively a different nation and also, you know, use their women as sexual objects. But then there’s also, your own government who allowed this to happen, sanctioned it, set it up.
Jeanette: Right. And the shame of shame of doing that. Right. And then like [00:36:00] the, the women themselves were totally ostracized, demeaned, shamed, marginalized, even though they were put in that situation for like, I know in some ways I kind of, for the service of the country to save the country kind of, right. I don’t know.
Jeanette: So it’s just like so fucked up in a number of ways. Right. And so I just bring all of this up because I think that even in our one relationship, I feel like the weight of that. History, even though the circumstances under which Jake and I met are totally different. Right. I mean, we met at Harvard. Like I was not a comfort woman.
Jeanette: I was not forced to you.
Susan: You gave him the history of bombing as I gave him,
Jeanette: I gave him the history of bombing as a birthday gift. I give him plenty of shit, you know? I mean, so, so, but yeah, I mean, so, so it’s just the weight of that history. I, I feel not like on a daily [00:37:00] basis, but on a regular basis,
Kate: I can sort of similarly relate.
Kate: Although obviously I’m not married to white purse, like white man, but when I think back about my two of my like most serious relationships with like white guys, actually, they’re very different, but also very similar in that. With one person. He basically like from the Midwest, super nice guy, very white.
Kate: And he dated a bunch of Asian girls once he like, you know came to like Boston was like more urbane, but he didn’t marrying like a white woman. So I realized I’m like, man, you know, some of us Asian girls end up being the fun, exotic, like girls that you date. Right. But then you never, you don’t marry them because like you still gotta go find one of your own, like a white person also from, you know, the Midwest and, looking back.
Kate: I mean, it’s not personal to this particular person who was a lovely person. Right. But I’m like, I kind of feel used. Right. And then I think back to the dynamic with his family, all white, no one had ever like married or dated anyone who was like not white . And I was just like, [00:38:00] No wonder, I felt like really weird and uncomfortable because I felt like, you know, and there was certain stereotypes floating around probably around me cause I’m like petite and anyway, so that was also really unpleasant.
Kate: And the other relationship I had also, like, I know he also had like some serious
Jeanette: issues about dating someone
Kate: who was not white and he even talked about it. But, and at the time I thought I was being empathetic, but I’m like, Oh, I understand. Like must be hard right now. I’m just like, what’s the fuck, man.
Kate: Like, why the fuck did you date me? Like go work at your own issues on like, don’t work them out on me. And so I realized like in, you know, as a retrospective, there is all of that. I just either oblivious or like, didn’t realize it, or I had such low self-esteem that I didn’t really think it was like a big deal, but now 36 at five-year-old knee, I think it is a big deal.
Kate: Right. Because we have to deal with all of these like weird productions of these, of, of white people on us. Well, that was like an anger, Raymond.
Jeanette: Just, you know, and I think maybe I, [00:39:00] because I’m married to a white person, you know, now for, I’ve been together with Jake for almost half of my entire life and I have two children with him.
Jeanette: Right. And so I think in a lot of these discussions, it’s just human. Right. I, I think I could, I feel like I could see the other side as well. Right. And so, I mean, what Jake would probably want me to say in this podcast is that, you know, he he has a lot of insecurities around, around being with me right around like being perceived as like having an Asian fetish.
Jeanette: And that’s why he was dating a Asian woman. And he always, like, when we dated, he always like, would make a point of telling people if it came up that he had never dated an Asian person before he had dated me. Right. Because he wanted to, I think not be perceived as like, you know, one of these, like. Kind of weird, weird white guys who are always like chasing Asian tail.
Susan: how is that received? Are they like, Oh, [00:40:00] okay, good. You’re clear now. Like what, how do people’s, what do they respond?
Jeanette: I don’t even remember. I mean, I don’t think there was like really a specific response to it, which I, you know, I think too, this is a generalization, but I think that that’s often kind of a, a white response to a lot of racial topics, which is like, you bring it up, but then there’s not, there’s kind of a level of like discomfort there about like how to handle these topics.
Jeanette: And so it’s kind of, it, it registers on some level, but then it’s also just, okay, like, let’s move on to the next topic. Right. Of course, like there’s disproportionate burden, I think, but it, I also. I think that it impacts everyone.
Susan: Totally. So I’m curious, you know being in a bi-cultural relationship, like what were you not prepared for as romantic partners?
Susan: Like, did y’all ever get into any types of conflicts [00:41:00] just one-on-one that you just weren’t prepared for because you were, bi-cultural
Kate: not with my husband directly. And I hope I might, my in-laws never listened to this, but it was more with my in-laws because, you know, my husband’s an only child, I’m an only child and you know, his families, Jane, which is, you know, Jane’s are vegetarian.
Kate: They’re like very, you know, very tight knit community. And he’d already like started eating meat before he met me. And so I think his parents felt like they were losing their son even before they met me. Like he, he didn’t go to temple. It didn’t call himself like a religiously, a Jane anymore, all this stuff.
Kate: Right. And so then, you know, I think basically shit went down around her wedding, which I felt like, you know, in part they, I think they really wanted to be able to have like their culture express. And in some ways it almost feels a little bit like a competition [00:42:00] right. Like who gets, who gets more, whose culture gets more, you know, sway, but it’s not a competition between me and my husband.
Kate: It’s like my in-laws who really want it because their son is not the conveyor of their culture and language. Right. And so they almost want to like compensate. And actually, if I’m going to admit, one of my biggest, biggest fears is around my daughter, which is that I have this like maybe somewhat irrational fear that it’s going to be like a culture competition with my in-laws.
Kate: If that makes sense. I don’t know if any of you feel that way, but I actually, it’s like a really big fear of mine, which my husband kind of knows about, but like, I don’t think he knows how
Susan: deep that theory is.
Kate: Yeah, cause we already started off on the wrong foot. Right. And so I’m now always like looking over my shoulder on the defensive anyway.
Susan: Yeah, yeah. Well with my in-laws I feel like I have the inverse problem. Right. So I am so all about my heritage and I’m all about like, let’s celebrate everyone’s heritage [00:43:00] and during the wedding I was like, Mrs. Kim, like I’d love to do all the honorific things for Korean people and all the customs and throw the chestnuts and ride around like a whole little horsey and all these things.
Susan: And she was like, no, You don’t need to do it. Like there’s so much right. In ritual to it. Like you would hire someone, you know, an LA you rent, you know, it’s, it’s like a big procession that if you’re not going to do it precisely and it’s so like of the past generation, like just don’t do it at all. And I was so crushed that I was like, okay.
Susan: I thought I was doing a good daughter-in-law thing, but she just didn’t want any of it. And so what I did is I asked my white bridesmaid to Google. All of this stuff have all the things prepared and we did it in our way. And, and it was, so it was so odd to me that I am trying to preserve his [00:44:00] Korean culture in our family.
Susan: And also like with art. Marvin does not care to me. Korean food does not care to speak Korean in front of art. And for his first birthday, like I’m like trying to research Korean birthday things, because again, this is, Kim’s like, Hmm, just go get a cake from whole foods, you know? And I’m like, okay, well, I will try to do, I w I feel like I’m expended.
Susan: I am extending the labor to not only promote the Vietnamese culture, but also the Korean culture. And I feel like it’s like double labor, but at the same time, I don’t want my Korean mother-in-law to think. I’m not that I’m choosing cultures, but also it’s like, I don’t know if it’s a trick. Like she wants me to prove that it honor her heritage, but then my husband does not give any, any F’s about preserving Korean heritage at all.
Susan: And if anything, I’ve been trying to experiment with speaking Vietnamese more with art. And at one point I was on a four day streak. I was on a four day [00:45:00] streak and I felt good and it was like hard and I’d be on the Google translate. And I’m like, I don’t know how to see squirrel and Vietnamese, like, literally look it up, you know, I’d be like, Oh, look at that animal, you know?
Susan: And then I’d be like Googling. And it’s like, and I could see my husband feeling hurt because he doesn’t feel included. And then, so I’ve reverted back to English, you know, but I, but now I’m starting to make all these little choices where I’m like, Hey, I know there is an elementary school across the street from us, but I’m willing to drive 13 minutes the other direction to go to a Vietnamese immersion elementary school, because there’s only one in the state and it’s 13 minutes away.
Susan: And so it’s going to be worth it to me. He’s like, are you sure? It’s kind of like a lot of driving thinking about the cumulative time in your life. And I’m kind of sitting there going like Vietnamese culture is going to live and die with me for art, you know? And I don’t want him to be for that generation to feel so lost and feel like his language was taken away.
Susan: And then he’s in his twenties. You know, in some kind of class trying to learn Vietnamese and feeling resentful and feeling like [00:46:00] it’s hard, right. Where there’s that search for the culture when it’s third generation? So cliff notes is I feel like the laborers on the woman’s still, and, and it’s, it’s just so awkward.
Susan: Cause I’m just like, I mean, my in-laws situation is always layers of awkwardness, but I feel like I’m the one insisting to preserve. Oh, you’re good.
Kate: I don’t even exist anymore because I’m like, I don’t want to do the labor where my husband is just, it’s very similar to Marvin actually, Susan, in this relationship, like, doesn’t speak good.
Kate: I mean some like, it’s like maybe kindergarten level, you know, or something. Sorry, he’s going
Susan: to hear me. I’m second grade Vietnamese. Yeah.
Kate: So like, you know, and he’s like not interested in speaking cause he’s super practical. He’s like, Oh, she’s never gonna like use good Ravi ever. What’s the point. I’m just gonna speak English.
Kate: I’d rather speak Spanish to her. If I had to teach her something else, any other that, you know, all the kinds of like, he, there were so many things you never told me. And then I find out from his cousin, I’m like, Oh my God, like we were actually supposed to do this, but you didn’t tell me he was going
Jeanette: to show
Kate: And I’m like, [00:47:00] you’re useless. You know? And then I get flack sometimes because it seems like I’m the evil person like preventing our family and my daughter from accessing like Indian or Gaddafi culture. But I’m like, dude, why does it have to meet my fucking job? Sorry, I’m swearing a lot today. But like, why does it have to be my job?
Kate: If you don’t want to do it, then I’m not going to take up your role. So that’s like my, your nice Susan. I’m not, I’m just like. You want to do it? Like, for example, you’re like, Oh, I don’t know where I know we’re looking at Mandarin immersion in like bilingual programs for daycare or preschool for RIAA.
Kate: Can we, can you just look at some Hindi ones? And I was like, no, you want to consider any ones that you look at up until your parents. We looked at. I was like, I’m not going to do your job.
Jeanette: I mean, I think if I were to hazard a guess, Kate, I think if you’re in loss, we’re in pushing for it, you would be more like Susan, because I think that there is this sense of, you know, like our, our ethnic heritage is so important to our [00:48:00] identity and. It just, it’s very hard. I find it very hard to articulate, but it is like, it feels so important.
Jeanette: Right. And so you would want to pass that to your daughter, both yours and your husbands, even, even if it’s not yours and even if he’s not doing his share. Right. So, I mean, I think that maybe you feel you would feel more like Susan, if your in-laws weren’t like providing different,
Kate: actually yes, I should have put that footnote where actually voluntarily I’m very interested in like, like I mentioned earlier, Indian culture has been, like, I had gone to visit India twice before I met my husband.
Kate: Right. Like I do not have India fever. I was just really interested. And so you’re right. I think I would be more happy, but now it’s become like a burden because I feel like, they’re always very unhappy about like, or I, if I don’t do anything correctly, like it’s wrong or something, and it just feels very like I’m being forced.
Kate: And I have a very, I’m a very like, like. Well, two, two of you, I’m like very, if you try to force me to do [00:49:00] something, I will like, no, I’m just very contrarian about that. So yeah, I mean, I do think if I take a step back, I do feel sad that, you know, the Indian part is not going to is not fully, you know, she’s not right, is not going to get as exposed to that.
Kate: But honestly, I don’t want to do the labor for too. I’m like I already do a lot of the labor for a lot of things. The emotional labor, and I just don’t want to take that part on. And
Susan: I feel really like,
Kate: I used to feel bad about it, but now I’m just like you know, I have to focus on what I can do for my daughter.
Kate: Instead of feeling guilty, like I refuse to feel guilty about that.
Susan: You know, I want to just clarify that I’m not the nice one because I don’t want to do this labor. I want to be like Kate. Like I don’t, I don’t want to do this labor. I’m already doing the Vietnamese labor and. I just, but there’s a part of the dutiful daughter [00:50:00] that feels like I’m being disrespectful.
Susan: If I don’t honor his Korean heritage, it’s like this weird guilt that I have that no one has told me to do. In fact, Mrs. Kim has told me numerous times not to do it, but I feel, I, I feel like I’m, I don’t know. I just feel like something’s going to, someone’s writing something in my profile or, you know, my, my folder in high school or something, and I’m going to get bad marks or something like that.
Susan: This is a big knock against me in terms of deep respect for someone, but I do not want, and then do the labor.
Jeanette: I think for me, it’s, it is somewhat different or at least my experience of it. I mean, because my husband’s white and just. You know, like we, we live in a white majority culture. I just feel like it’s kind of everywhere. Right? Like my kids are, we’re already kind of [00:51:00] absorbing that part of the culture just without much of like my intervention.
Jeanette: Right. And so I think there’s also like less competition because of that. And I think that that is also part of white privilege. Right. I mean, like my in-laws are very welcoming and I think they try to be interested in Korean culture and accepting of it. But I think it’s also partly because, you know, if you’re white, you live in a culture that doesn’t feel under the threat of extinction.
Jeanette: I mean, maybe you feel that way more and that’s what is. Like some of what we’re seeing, like feeling all this, like Trump support and all of that, but like, you know, I think it’s still largely true that we live in a white dominated culture. And so the being white means that you have the luxury of being more, being able to be more accepting of other cultures because you’re your own is not going extinct.
Jeanette: [00:52:00] Yeah. I mean, I think the other question that I’ve been wrestling with is like, what is the long-term vision for the continuation of our cultural heritage, like into the generations. Right. And I don’t know if you guys think about that, but, you know, I, I thought about that when I had Isaiah and was giving him a Korean name for his middle name, I just gave him like a very loaded Korean name because I felt, as I felt like.
Jeanette: I don’t really know if Isaiah’s going to be like, what part of Korean culture and language he’s going to be able to carry on. Right. And do I feel like it’s realistic that his kids will speak Korean and how much of Korean food? They will know, like Korean values, Korean, Nora. And so I felt that I wanted to give him a name.
Jeanette: That[00:53:00] encompasses two things about Korean culture that I think are very Korean and like very important ideas, like in Korean culture.
Jeanette: What’s like the essence of what’s important to me about Korean culture that I want to pass on to him. Yeah.
Jeanette: Because I feel like I can’t expect him to be as Korean as me. Right. And his kids certainly aren’t going to be as Korean as me, like, who knows, like what is the ethnic or cultural background of the person he’s going to marry? And so. I, it’s not a question that I’ve really resolved, but you know, it’s that kind of generational stuff.
Jeanette: And then there’s also like this question of how much culture can one person hold and carry. Right. So yeah, I don’t know. I’d be interested to hear what you
Kate: I’ve been thinking about that a lot, because I’m looking at preschools, sorry. I know a year ahead of time, but is for this fall and then eventually preschools variety.
Kate: And I’m very, you know, I want to raise her bilingual. That to me is really important, but then I think a lot about, okay, what is my goal? Why do I want to raise her bilingual? And I realized, [00:54:00] I don’t want to end up being like my husband’s parents, my in-laws
Kate: Who like try to force a lot of stuff on my husband who was just like, no, I’m my own person.
Kate: Cause I realized, you know, like you were saying,
Susan: you know, who knows
Kate: what kind of people, you know, they’re going to be who they’re going to be with. I realized I don’t want riots at bear. Feel like Chinese is a burden, whether it’s the language or the culture. I want her to see like Chinese is something that is a part of her that she enjoyed.
Kate: So I refuse to send her to weaken Chinese school because Chinese school, no one ever likes Chinese school. Okay. Growing up. And so that for me is like the guiding principle where I want it to be a joy, something that’s natural to her. And that, I don’t want to force this on her, in that. Ultimately I know that she is her own person and that however she’ll express Chinese culture or language is not something that I can actually necessarily control because I think that’s actually one of the things my parents did for me that I really appreciate compared to other Chinese immigrant families where, you know, one like years ago, my dad said to me, he’s like, look you we [00:55:00] don’t expect you to be like kids in China because you were raised in the U S.
Kate: Right. He’s like, you’re exposed to a lot of different things. He’s like, I don’t know why we would ever expect, you know, for you to be like a Chinese kid. And that was a really big blessing from my parents. And I would want to extend that same thing to, you know, my, my daughter and any other future children.
Kate: So I don’t know all the details of the kinks, but I just, I think I’m guided by, you know, these big, these big
Susan: principles. Wait, Jeanette, what did you name Isaiah’s name? I mean, you were like, it’s the two most fundamental Korean things of all of Korea?
Jeanette: No, I mean, I don’t know if they, if, I don’t know if everybody would say that, but I think they come close.
Jeanette: So his, his name is Chong, hun Tongan. Chong is this word in Korean that. Means like, it’s like the bonds between people. It’s not [00:56:00] exactly the same as love, but it’s kind of like, love it is love, but it’s outside of romantic love.
Susan: It’s that sounds so Asian.
Susan: Yes. Yeah. It’s just
Jeanette: like that commitment to mute yeah. To your fellow man. And like, even if you hate that person, somehow you still kind of don’t want to, for them to like be in the pits, you know? So that’s, that’s Chong like, like a lot of, you know, ideas like that. It’s very multilayered multifaceted. I wouldn’t say there’s like necessarily just one definition for it.
Jeanette: And then Han is you know, it’s like a more controversial one. My mom actually didn’t want me to give him this word in his name because it means deep sorrow. Which is, I feel like also very Korean and very Asian, right. It just means, seems like this kind of almost like bottomless sadness.
Jeanette: Right. Of feeling like they’re just something so fundamentally [00:57:00] broken in this world. I also feel like it’s the root of a lot of other kinds of Korean characteristics. It’s like like even like Chong, right? Like that kind of bond with other people, because like you, you are in like the sorrow together.
Jeanette: I think it’s like this kind of empathy, this, this like breed of empathy that I find really valuable in the best of Korean culture. And so that again is also a multifaceted word, but, you know, so I gave him the name, Tom, and and. I just feel like, okay, if he has nothing else, if he kind of understands in some multifaceted way, what these words mean , that feels like almost enough to me.
Jeanette: But my mom’s like, why would you name like a kid? Why would you give him that Hahn thing? And she tried to make it a different character. But I’m like, no, no. His name is Tonga anyways. So that’s, that’s easiest, middle name
Susan: for, for art. So art is [00:58:00] art, Lou Kim and it’s hyphenated.
Susan: Because we didn’t want one culture to dominate over the other. Louis first. And, and we didn’t give him a middle name because both Marvin and I don’t have middle names. So we were like, Oh, it’ll be consistent. But we also felt like there was fighting of real estate. And what do you do with that? But I’ve really Vietnamese people can not pronounce art’s name.
Susan: Okay. They say act. So it just sounds like art at all. And it sounds terrible. And if anything, my aunts call him Kim Jong all the time, which is like terrible. And, but I wanted my dad to be able to pronounce art’s name and call them something. So I said, Bob, why don’t you just give him a Vietnamese name that all the Vietnamese people will call him.
Susan: And that’s what we’re going to call him. When we talk about him and he named him Kim wine because in Vietnamese culture, there [00:59:00] are people named Kim. You know, as a first name, first name. Yeah. So that could work and it’s like, okay, great. And then one is I think he was like a, a ruler, an emperor, some sort like it’s very Regal.
Susan: It’s also like one of the only Vietnamese boyfriend’s name’s I’ve what of the only Vietnamese boyfriends I’ve ever had was named Wang. So every time I say the name, I think about him every time, but I haven’t told my husband or my father that yet. So that’s that, but it’s Kim Hawaiian. So it’s a very nice joining of both cultures, you know, but I, I just thought it was like a, but that’s our way of doing it, but now I’m sad.
Susan: I’m sad that we could have done something with that middle name slot, but in response to you, Jeanette, about the worry of what’s going to happen. I wanted to bring up my story, which is. You know, my mom passed away when I was 11. And up until that point, it was like Vietnamese all the time, speak Vietnamese, eat Vietnamese [01:00:00] we’re Vietnamese.
Susan: And, and then after she died, my dad, it was just, just trying to keep the nail salon, a float. You know, all the siblings were kind of going through their own grieving journey and doing their own thing in life. And I felt like I had to go find my own Vietnamese nurse because I never felt Vietnamese enough even in college.
Susan: And I went on my own journey. Like after college, I moved to Vietnam to go find out who my mom was. And now I feel very proud and very deeply rooted in my Vietnamese ness. And I took Vietnamese class and, and I feel like I’m trying to be very proactive with that in Artslife. Whereas my two older brothers aren’t so much, you know, they’re not th they don’t really make a big effort in my sister’s starting to come around with that.
Susan: So what I’m trying to say is just like, it was my own inner journey that I had to take, and it’s not like my dad ever asked me to go do that. You know, if anything, it was like be more American, like assimilate, please assimilate. So I guess, I guess my point in all [01:01:00] that is like, maybe your children will take their own journey when it’s time for them to take their own journey, to figure out what their culture really does mean to them and how they will carry it on.
Susan: And it’s, it’s their own journey that they have to take. And you can only just provide, you know?
Jeanette: I think that that’s the right and realistic answer.
Susan: Yeah, but just don’t call it art, Kim Jong-un. Okay. Oh
Susan: my answer terrible. Kate, you, you had sent a beautiful email after rye was born about Riaz full name.
Susan: And after I read that, I was like, Oh my God, I, I should put a lot more effort into this naming thing. Can you talk about Riaz name?
Jeanette: So, wow. I can’t believe you still remember.
Kate: So I guess it wasn’t, as, you know, maybe behind the scenes as like intense as it may be came across, but you know, like I mentioned with the tension with my in-laws, like we, I think my husband and I both wanted our daughter’s first name to be something that was neither [01:02:00] overtly Chinese nor overtly Indian.
Kate: And so we picked RIAA, which as it turns out is also now the latest in Disney blockbuster movie, but we didn’t know at the time, but we felt like it was, you know, had meanings in a bunch of different languages write in Arabic in Spanish Hebrew. So we liked that, right, because that’s the world that she will occupy a world in the United States or wherever else she lives that is increasingly very, you know international and people have very different backgrounds.
Kate: So that was like her first name. I insisted on hyphenating the surname because I’m an only child, right. I’m like the Wong. And I’m the only child of an only son, which as you know, in Chinese culture is like, Big deal. And, you know, I never changed my surname when we got married. And so I felt like it’s a part of my identity because the Chinese name in Chinese, like the surname, sorry, the family name goes first.
Kate: And then it’s your, you know, give a name. And for me, the meaning of my name comes in combining those two Chinese characters. And so I didn’t want to let go of my surname. And so I wanted that to be in [01:03:00] rising. So it’s her surname is Wong dash Shaw shopping, my husband’s last name and her middle name, you know, I didn’t really have thoughts.
Kate: I was like, yeah, just, you really need a middle name. I mean, she’ll get a Chinese name, but I don’t know if I want it to be her middle name, but luckily it was resolved because in my in-laws like in my in-law’s family, all the kids, their middle name is the father’s first name. So her middle name is nearer, but it’s funny because now, and of course she has a Chinese name that my dad gave her, but it’s not legal, but now I feel kind of like regretful that I didn’t add her Chinese name as part of her legal names or recently broached the subject with my husband’s husband being like, ah, do you think maybe we could like add it to her name?
Kate: I know it’ll be really long. I don’t know. So, but I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s me being like really possessive, you know, or
Jeanette: anyway, complicated. Isaiah has two middle names he has is Chung Han park Bryant, Isaiah Chung, Han park, Brian.
Susan: Do you remember [01:04:00] the days of standardized testing when you’d have to like bubble in that entirety?
Susan: I didn’t want her
Kate: to be, have a really long name because then she’d run into like legal issues. Seriously. I had a friend who is like from the fiction Stein, right? That’s the country, right? Yeah. Who had like he’s Catholic and he had like four middle names and he was always running into like problems in China because his name is too damn long.
Kate: And so I always thought I can not give my daughter a name. That’s too
Susan: damn long.
Susan: They do computer testing now. Yeah. Yeah,
Jeanette: no, I know. I dunno. He’ll, that’ll be one of his challenges to overcome.