Choptensils Shorts: “Brown Expats” and “The New Year”

February 13, 2010

I always have ideas of topics and situations I want to write on, but I only get to them about half the time (or less); so – to get some more topics out there (hopefully for discussion), I’m going to start writing up some “Choptensils Shorts” – i.e. “Topics I want to touch on/things to consider but I’m too busy (or lazy) to cover in a full post.” Enjoy.

“Brown Expats”

So I basically do my best to avoid expats while I’m out here. When I meet them, I’m perfectly friendly, but I’m not so open to catching up later or following up, whereas I go out of my way to meet more Chinese folks and hang out with them. Cool. I didn’t come here to meet other foreigners, right?

Well, except it’s more like I have a chip on my shoulder about the white expats, specifically. Because, see – I met a Mexican expat the other day, and I was all about hanging out with him more. I was chatting with him today, and I was thinking that it would be cool to try to do hang out for real or something; think it would be cool to pick his brain a little bit about a different version of expat life out here. And – I’ll be honest – I just liked him better than most of the other expats I met.

But that’s kind of f-ed up, when you really look at it, right? I probably gave him more of a real chance to not annoy me than I would a white guy out here. He’s dating a Chinese woman, too . . . So what’s with the double-standard? Why do I think of white people as “expats” and brown folks as something different? Granted, the darker shades bring a different kind of privilege here – not so blatant and colonial in background as white folks inherently bring – but come on – privileged they are. And I am, too.

At the same time, it isn’t too different than who I find myself most comfortable with (at least upon first meeting) back in the States. And, certainly, white folks tend to hang mostly with white folks, so is it all that different? I don’t know. Something to think on, for sure, though.

“Learning About a Culture When They Aren’t Around”

I had a subway car pretty much to myself today (three other people). From my vantage point, I couldn’t see a single soul standing. To say that’s uncommon out here is to drastically downplay the phenomenon. It was downright eerie. In this country of 1.3 billion people, the concept of everybody getting a seat on public transportation is one I hadn’t considered until today.

Because everybody’s home with their families. It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve (obviously, they don’t call it “Chinese” New Year’s out here . .. in fact, most don’t call it “New Year” – it’s “Spring Festival”) and everybody is at home. And nobody was out at all today. It was really cool. People take it (and family) seriously, and it was nice to see that. Seeing everything shut down, the streets clear up . . . I’m excited for this one – a long way from last year.

That being the case, I just wanted to touch on that and move on – I’ve got better things to do this particular New Year/Spring Festival than to be blogging with the likes of you all . . .

They say how you begin the year is a sign of the rest of it, so – I wish you all a happy, safe, and healthy New Year; and I hope tomorrow starts off with understanding, patience, and inspiration. Let’s get this next year started off right and blow through ignorance and injustice like a Tiger through a chicken farm . . .


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