Why Asians Need To Stop Idealizing All Things Western

Illustration by Dadu Shin

If you’re Asian, chances are you’ve been westernized in some form or another, and trust me, by saying that, I don’t mean it as a good thing.

Whether it will show in very discreet ways or just flat-out being xenophobic towards either yourself or your own fellow Asians, being corrupted by Western ideals and standards isn’t common when it comes to us.

We’ve all fallen prey to it, even I have as well, there’s no denying that. From insulting the accents and dialects of the people in my country who live in the province as well as mocking someone for being uninformed about the gossips circulating Hollywood celebrities and even going as far as calling the songs of the singers here in my country tacky and low quality in comparison to Western songs. I have been there as well.

It may seem harmless at first because you think you’re just poking fun at your own people and that you’re allowed to do so, but the more I think about all the degrading nonsense I’ve implied in the past towards my own country and the people who don’t live in the city, I’m no different than that of a white person saying the same type of things and being called racist.

Because that’s how I was acting, I was being racist.

I expected my own people to know all the scandals and drama white celebrities experience and to scoff at them for not knowing the release of the new songs and albums by popular white singers, while simultaneously shaking my head when they listen to local music instead.

It took me a while to dismantle this way of thinking that I did because truthfully speaking, it just served as some sort of superiority complex to make me feel better because unlike my peers, I knew more about what was happening in America than I did with my own country.

I knew more about the election going on in American than the election happening in my own country, as well as the crises happening in their states than what was happening in the provinces of my own country.

I’ve completely neglected my own native land, only so that I can prioritize a country that I wasn’t even originally from, neither was I even living in.

That’s not to say you can’t acknowledge the issues going on around the world, you can, because that’s what human beings are meant for, to help other humans.

But if it’s gone to the extent that you’ve singlehandedly ignored your country’s own problems in order to focus more on Kanye West running for President in 2020 and thinking that was more important than your own people possibly suffering from difficulty regarding your government, healthcare, and academic system, then there is something wrong with you.

And how would I know that? Because I’ve been there before. When I was on Twitter discussing every goddamn problem America was facing every week, I had no idea about the problems my own country was going through, such as how my president was committing murders and how my own government stole BILLIONS of money from our healthcare system.

I was simply unaware.

And it was only until a family member sat me down and told me everything that’s occurred in my country while I was too busy scrolling through social media, looking at pointless celebrity gossip because I deemed that to be more worthy of my time.

But it wasn’t. People were dying, struggling from poverty while our president was neglecting our needs and even going as far as threatening to kill us and establishing an Anti-Terror Bill Law that forbids people to criticize our government because if we do, we could go to jail.

It wasn’t only until other people from other countries talked about my own country’s problems that I started doing the same thing. I had to be persuaded by people who don’t even live in my country for me to care about what I should’ve cared about a long time ago.

The realization felt like being electrocuted by a circuit and letting the spark that course right through you enable certain mechanics inside your brain that were rusting due to neglect.

Being neglectful of things I should’ve shifted my focus on a long time ago, but ignoring them on purpose because I couldn’t care less about what other people of color were going through, as long as I talked about what white people were debating about in their comfortable, suburban homes, I felt like I was already well-informed.

But I wasn’t. I just limited myself in what I deemed to be important for the sake of being included in matters that social media deemed to be more relevant. Due to my gravitation towards content that was mostly overruled by the Western Media, I only prioritized what was trending.

Which shouldn’t be like that. One shouldn’t have to be coerced into shedding light upon an issue for them to take action and to acknowledge it. Especially when that particular problem will gradually manifest the consequences it carried into the future, and only then will you care once you’ve seen the aftermath right before your eyes.

One shouldn’t have to experience the consequences of their actions in order for them to care.

Which I had to learn the hard way, the kind that really pushed me into a world of immense reevaluation towards my values and the way I looked at the world.

Because as an Asian, much like our white counterparts, we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that our problems shouldn’t even be considered as problems.

That we’re not oppressed enough to start rallies and protests for our own kind, considering our issues aren’t crucial enough to be shown on international television nor on social media.

The western media has single-handedly led us to believe that our lives and mere existence are meant to be catered towards them because unlike other POC, they made us think that we had the potential to be in the same spot beside them in this hierarchy that they’ve built.

That we’re more well-rounded, well-educated, and have more tolerable upbringings for them to invite us in their little clique of elitists, colorists, and white supremacists.

That we’re more qualified for them to consider us as their apprentice, but that’s what we’ll only ever be. Their little right-hand-man that’ll justify all their actions and put them on such high pedestals, but at the end of the day, the dynamic between us is always imbalanced.

The romanticization will always be one-sided. For we’ll always be inferior in their eyes.

Why do you think POC aspire to go to the states or other European countries in order to gain better opportunities for their careers, but white people only ever waltz themselves into our countries for vacations or because they wanna snatch an Asian for a romantic partner?

Which, by the way, I also need to discuss because this recurring theme when it comes to Asians gushing over white people dating someone from their country needs to stop.

The number of times I’ve seen this nonsense be broadcasted on the news in Asia about how a foreigner decided to take a vacation in said Asian country and happened upon a so-called sloppy, uneducated Asian man or woman living in the province, wondering why oh why, did this magnificent American or European with the dazzling blue eyes and fair skin took an interest towards this ragged, dark-skinned Asian?

It’s so dehumanizing.

Even when I was young, and despite all the westernization I’ve gone through, every time this is still broadcasted in the news, I always sit there and wonder to myself:

“What’s the big deal?”

But as much as I questioned it, I knew why Asians tend to exaggerate it when a foreigner takes an interest in people of their kind. Because even in our eyes, we’re charity cases.

Or maybe because in terms of appearance, the foreigner is always the more attractive one because we were led to believe white features are the most beautiful among all races.

With their beautiful straight noses, golden blonde hair, and colored eyes, we strive to either marry someone who looks like them or for us to look like them.

Why do you think Southeast Asians promote so many skin-lightening products in their countries? Consider white, glowing skin as the standard?

That if you have fair skin, you’re automatically assumed to be of mixed race and people compliment you by saying “Ah, you should be a celebrity! You have the skin for it!”

It is so stupid. So stupid and I’ve always thought this way of thinking of Southeast Asians was such a colorist mentality, long before I even knew what colorism meant.

Even East Asians fall prey to this colorist mentality such as the Koreans, Japanese, and, Chinese whose beauty standards are solely based on having Western features that it’s practically normal for their people to get plastic surgery when they become teenagers.

It’s also why the entirety of Asia consider them as the superior Asians, all because they fit the ideal beauty standards that Asians basically die for.

Even in terms of being able to speak fluent English, regardless if you’re from Southeast Asia or East Asia, your overall disposition is measured by how good you are at speaking English.

Your intellect and intelligence are based on how good you are at speaking it because again, the whole world revolves around America. Down to their states, all the way to their language, the only way one’s worth is to be determined, is that if we channel parts of ourselves that are coherent to them and makes their way of understanding us easier.

And that needs to stop, right here and now, because we’ve idealized the Western world and its people for far too long that we’ve disregarded the issues our own countries are facing and are blinded by the true beauty our native people carry because we’re too busy being carbon copies of our white counterparts.

I’d like to think it’s because, during the days of colonization POC have faced, white people have stepped in to try and act as our saviors. We were taught this in our schools and were even encouraged to thank our white counterparts for saving us… when in reality, they didn’t.

They overruled us and at the expense of them supposedly rescuing us and our people, they held it over our heads for years that they were the ones to save and provide for us.

Improved our countries by giving us more political participation and economic gains, when really, this was just the start of white people implementing this colonial mentality.

That if it weren’t for them, our race would’ve gone extinct a long time ago, and personally, I like to consider this as capture bonding. You know, someone who prides themselves on being a victim’s savior when really, they’re just asserting their power over the said victim.

That if you comply with their every demand and what they want, you’re spared but if not, you’re over with… and is that really what defines a savior?

Telling their victims, reminding their victims, that if it weren’t for them, they would merely be nothing but dirt scraped under the ends of their shoes, so they should at least be grateful.

It’s like witnessing an abduction happen between a predator and a child and when a random man swoops in to save the child, they take that child into their care. Only so that they could isolate that child instead of bringing them back to their parents.

When confronted with this by the child themselves, the man will then say “At least I didn’t hurt you in the way that predator would have hurt you, so you need to be thankful to me instead of questioning my intentions. I took care of you.” but he didn’t. What he did was just reverse abducted that child instead of returning them to their rightful homes.

That’s the dynamic between Asians and white people and as long as the rest of us still don’t realize that, white people are perpetually gonna keep reminding us that they are better.

In terms of economy, opportunities, and appearances.

When in reality, they aren’t.

They just made us think that they are when they are far from the fairytale wonderland filled with knight-in-shining armors meant to save the day.

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