Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

October 05, 2017 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Specialty Fries
Student Special Every Thursday 10pm-1am

Starting at $5:
Bacon Cheddar Chive

(Additional $5 Purchase Required)

Dine-In Only Student ID Required

Plus...$4 Shot Menu
$4 Michigan IPA’s (Some Exclusions)

338 S. State St. 734.996.9191 www.ashleys.com
Michigan’s Premier Multi-Tap

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Michigan in Color
Thursday, October 5, 2017 — 3

White girls sure love tofu.
They put it in quinoa bowls, in almond

bowls and in Buddha bowls (a concept
which I don’t understand — but that’s for
another time), on their Instagram feeds
topped off with a rustic-chic filter. It’s
one of the new health guru staples —
throw some tofu in, it’ll change your life.
It’s so healthy, so simple, it’s amazing,
it’s to die for.

I, too, love tofu. My mother used to fry

it for me with green onions, thick slices
with a crispy skin over rice. Or she’d
put it in a fish soup, and I’d spend ten
minutes carefully clearing the premises
of any bones or eyeballs before eating it.
When we went to dim sum restaurants,
I’d order the mapo tofu, with black chilli
peppers, so spicy that I could feel it
coating my tongue.

White girls didn’t want my tofu back


The right to cook a cuisine that is

not your own is still incredibly messy.
From obscure health bloggers to high-
profile chefs like Andy Ricker, a white
man from Oregon hailed as a “Thai-
cooking superstar”, white people making
Asian food is a very touchy subject. And
although the arguments are true that
yes, white people can study a cuisine
extensively, and white culture is based
in cultural appropriation, the question
is not of whether they can cook it well
or not, because cultural appropriation is
rooted much deeper than the food itself.
Just as Sarah Bond pointed out in an
article for Forbes, food has been used as
a tool to show status dating back to the

Roman Empire, distinguishing between

people. When white girls pointed out
my weird homemade lunch in the first
grade, it certainly felt that way. So to
see it now being lauded as the big new
trend by white people does not sit right.
One blogger I saw had posted a picture
of their tofu and grain bowl, talking
about how special “Asian cuisine” was
to them. But what even is Asian cuisine
to them? Because to me, Filipino food is

incredibly different from Indian food,
which is different from Japanese food,
which is different from Chinese food.
Not even accounting for the fact that
within China, Shanghainese food and
Sichuan food are on two completely
unrelated palates. One cuisine might
be influenced from the other, and there
might be overlap, but each one brings a
distinct character to the table. You can’t

throw tofu in a bowl and expect all Asian
people to believe it’s theirs.

That’s just the problem with white

people making so-called “ethnic” foods.
So much room opens up for mislabeling
and shallowness, and more importantly,
the undermining of a community for
profit. A white person can make money
off another cuisine, while simultaneously
squashing another opportunity for the
community itself to be represented, and
demonstrating a lackluster, insensitive
approach to actually uplifting the people
they are profiting off. Cultural exchange
is important and has given us many of
the cuisines we enjoy today; but cultural

oppression, and past oppression seems
to have justified today’s appropriation.
I’m no food expert, but I do know the
sting of people cherry-picking from my
culture, taking out the tofu and Chinese

reinforcing the ideas that my history is
unimportant, my eyes are ugly and my
community is doing fine even when it’s

The truth is, I want to share my food

with white people. I want them to learn
more about my community, and I want
to fuse cuisines to make even more
delicious tofu (I hope I have established
by now that I really like tofu). But
exchange becomes hard when you know
your community has been exploited
throughout history, your culture taken
apart and picked over at the ease of a
larger systematic oppressor. Bottom line:
don’t. White people might throw their
hands up and say, “If you want to share
with us, why don’t you just reach across
the aisle more?” But I’ve been reaching,
and it’s a labor that’s been one-sided.
And so far in return, I’ve received bland
tofu with Instagram filters, and Andy
Ricker. And I’m tired.

Anyone who has ever met me knows

that asking about my racial and ethnic
identity is the quickest way to confuse me.
But there is one particular question that
perpetually haunts me: Am I Asian? The
answer: maybe? I find myself selectively
identifying as Asian American. Sometimes
it just depends on the day. Other times, it’s
based on whom I’m with. Most often, I’m
not just Asian American but I’m South
Asian American; the South is key. Looking
back, I’ve realized that throughout my
life, the fluctuations in how I’ve identified
as Asian American have been heavily
influenced by various Asian-American
peers, particularly East Asian Americans.

I definitely did not start identifying

as Asian American until I was in middle

population at my middle school was equal
parts East and Southeast Asian American;
I was one of the few South Asian-
American students there. I remember
asking my friends if they thought I was
Asian American and they immediately
responded with “Yeah, of course. What
other continent are India and Sri Lanka
in?” This reassured me that I was
undoubtedly Asian American; what else
could I be?

That changed in high school. At my

high school, the Asian-American student
population was mostly composed of East
Asians, and there were fewer South Asian,
Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander
Americans there. Many of my Asian-
American and white peers would say, “No
way you’re Asian, like you’re not Chinese”
or “Being Indian isn’t the same as being

Asian.” My experiences in high school
taught me that here in America, Asian is
equated with East Asian.

What is interesting is that when I asked

my parents whether I was Asian, they
were surprised that I did not already
know the answer. My parents spent much
of their lives living in England. They
have told me on multiple occasions that
based on their experiences, in England
the Asian identity is equivalent to being
South Asian. It took them quite a while
to recognize that here Asian is equated
with East Asian. This showed me just how
relative and subjective (and let’s not forget
confusing) the Asian identity can be.

Many large Asian-American student

organizations, including Uncover: A/
PIA and the United Asian American
Organizations, have pushed for more
diversity, inclusivity and representation
of the Asian-American identity. More
often than not, I tend to identify as
Asian American within these spaces.
Despite this, there are still quite a few
student organizations that claim to be
pan-Asian American but have little to no
representation of South Asian Americans,
Southeast Asian Americans or Pacific
Islander Americans. Also, when I am with
individual Asian Americans or smaller
friend groups of Asian Americans, I don’t
really feel Asian American. I’ve come
across comments from my East Asian-
American peers that include “You’re not
Asian. You’re different” and “But, like,
Asians, like, you know what I mean.” To
be honest, no I don’t. I genuinely have no
idea what you mean.

I’ve basically lived all 21 years of my life

as an American-Born Confused Desi (even
though I was technically born in Canada),
but now I’m also an equally confused,

maybe fake Asian American as well? Yikes.

Disclaimer: My experiences in (self-

) identifying as an Asian American or
people dictating whether I am Asian
American have been neither positive nor
negative experiences for me. They just
happen. I’ve always been curious and
perplexed about how the Asian-American
identity seems to be extremely relative,
flexible and subjective.

With that in mind, here are some

questions that I often find myself thinking

1. What does it mean to be Asian or

Asian American?

2. What does it mean to be a real Asian

American versus a fake Asian American?

3. If there is no singular Asian-


American tantamount to East Asian

4. Why do Asian Americans who

are not of East Asian descent often find
themselves having to justify or qualify
their identity with a prefix?

5. Why do people not want the Asian-

American identity to be as diverse and
inclusive as possible?

I’m not sure that I know, or ever will

know, the answers to any of those questions.
However, I think it’s important for Asian
Americans to have conversations about
these kinds of questions. And while I’m
not sure I will ever be wholly comfortable
identifying as Asian American, only time
(and maybe the opinions of other Asian
Americans) will tell.


Schrödinger’s Asian: Defining my identity

We’re tired of this

MiC Columnist


Senior MiC Editor


MiC Columnist

You shoot me with a gun,

I didn’t do anything

But yet you still run.

Silent judgement

You pass upon me and mine

Because the color of my skin,

So bronzed and full of shine.

My fellow people say

You make us seem less,

Beating us up, pulling our hair,

“Oh it’s such a mess.”

The way my lips

Are full and round,

The way my hips sway

As I walk over dreaded ground.

You want me to respect you

No matter what you do to me.

You want me to agree with you,

“Mexicans have no right to be

Here” when you know

As much as I,

What only should be heard

Are Native cries.

Don’t look at me

With a scowl on your face.

Look at me,

As I belong in this place.

“Cultural exchange
is important and has
given us many of the

cuisines we enjoy today;
but cultural exchange
is not synonymous with


religious obligations.

“Faculty are expected to provide



observances cause a student to
miss classes, examinations or



University’s steadfast policy, some
students do not always have an
accommodating experience with
their professors.

LSA sophomore Madison, who

requested her last name remain
anonymous to avoid academic
repercussion, had trouble with a
professor she emailed a week in
advance of Rosh Hashanah about
missing a lab. Though her graduate
student instructor assured her
she would have a chance to make
up any missed work, the course
coordinator’s strict policies made
it difficult to reschedule the
lab. According to Madison, the
syllabus stated students must
email the coordinator three weeks
in advance, but students did not

receive the course coordinator’s
email until the second week. Rosh
Hashanah took place during the
third week of school.

The coordinator’s policy does

not align with the University’s
religious holiday policy, which
states students must give notice
of class conflicts by the add/drop
deadline for the term on Sept. 25.

Madison said she sent an email

a week in advance only to receive a
reply from her course coordinator
a day before the holiday that
stated her request could not be
accommodated because she did
not give the coordinator enough
time to reschedule.

This situation would seem to

violate the University’s policy.

“Faculty should make every


required work that is difficult
to reschedule, e.g., lab, exams

activities, on religious holidays,”
Courant wrote.

As a result, Madison’s lab was

counted as an excused absence
on the condition that she could
not miss another lab for a Jewish
holiday or for any illness, since she
used up her one excused absence.

“I was so upset. She was putting

so much pressure on me that I
almost went to lab instead of going
to services at Hillel and observing
the holiday because I was so
worried I would be sick one day
in the future and be penalized,”
Madison said.

She also feared the situation

would affect her overall grade in
the course as a result of earning
fewer points in the lab she was
absent from.

“I was afraid that I would not

get as good of a grade in the class
as I would if the total points were
higher and I am still not sure how
that will affect my grade yet,”
Madison said.

However, LSA senior Elana

Rosenthal has found most of her
teachers to be respectful of her
religious observances. In advance
of the holidays, she has always sent
emails to her GSIs and professors
that outlined the specific dates she
will need to miss class. She has
never had a problem with having
her absences excused or getting
extensions for assignments.

From Page 1

Read more at MichiganDaily.com

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan