Reply To: How do you tell East Asian races apart?

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There is a mind-boggling diversity of ethnic groups within Asia, not just between countries, but also within them. For example, China is a multi-ethnic nation. The Han people comprises 90% of the population, but there are 55 other ethnic minorities, including Mongolians, Russians, Koreans, Manchus, among others. It doesn’t make sense to talk about what the ‘typical Chinese’ looks like, any more than the ‘typical American”. Moreover, the Asian diaspora extends throughout the rest of the world. In many cases the immigration happened several generations or even centuries ago. So a person with Asian features may be ignorant of or disinterested in the culture of their forefathers and assimilated into the majority. So, it’s impossible to identify ethnic origin on physical appearance alone. Even if you could, draw conclusions at your own risk. A more relevant indicator of attitudes, preferences, habits, etc. are the circumstances unique to the experience of each individual.. As fourth-generation descendant of Japanese immigrants to the U.S. in the 19th century, growing up in multi-ethnic California, I’ve often had the following exchange with folks unaccustomed to Asian faces: THEM: Where are you from? ME: Los Angeles THEM: No, I mean before that? ME: My mother’s womb. THEM: No, you know what I mean. What nationality are you? ME: American THEM: No, I mean, like what country are you from? ME: The U.S. THEM: Then where were your parents from? ME: Sacramento. THEM: No, come on, where did your grandparents come from? ME: Wyoming. THEM: No, no, you know what I mean? ME: I do? [Feigning ignorance] Ok … if you’re asking about my ethnic ancestry, my great-grandparents were from Japan. THEM: Oh, so you’re Japanese. ME: No, I’m American. My great-grandparents were Japanese. THEM: You don’t have an accent. Say something in Japanese. ME: Why should I have an accent? I don’t know Japanese. THEM: What! You don’t know the language? What a shame. [Why don’t they say that when a American of German ancestry doesn’t know German?] THEM: When was the last time you were in Japan? ME: Never been there. THEM: What! Never been to Japan! How sad. They are such an industrious people, … [other platitudes] ME: Uh, I’ve got to go now … It’s natural to be curious about others, so if you want to know where they’re from, why not ask? Better yet get to know them as individuals, not as members of an ethnic group.

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Name : Don, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Asian, Religion : Episcopalian, Age : 46, City : Northern California, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : Corporate Executive, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper class,