Being Asian and Latino
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It's let new USA I'm marina pasta and today on being Asian and let go. In the United States. The two fastest growing ethnic groups are Asians and letting knows and these groups are not neutrally exclusive. For centuries immigrants from Asia have settled throughout Latin America. There's Korean communities in Mexico and in Argentina, there are Chinatowns everywhere from central mingle to Lima. There's a major Japanese population in Brazil, and that's just a few of the many Asian communities that exists in the region. The descendants of those immigrants carry both Asian and Latin American identities and inside the US, Asians and Latinos have lived side by side in heavily immigrant neighborhoods and have created lives together. So today, we're going to hear from four of our listeners who we invited to be on our show to talk about their Asian Latino identity and how it is shaped their experiences in the United States. David Chang is approving American of Chinese descent. He's a project coordinator for a nonprofit in San Francisco Cristiano Saudi is the daughter of Filipina mother and a Salvadoran father born in southern California, and she's a community organizer now in the bay area. Bob, low Kim is a chef and entrepreneur he's the son of Korean immigrants and was born in Argentina, he's based in Los Angeles. And finally, Sophie Khan is an actress who stars in the award winning one woman show called makes his Donny growing up Mexican Pakistani in America. She grew up in my hometown of Chicago. And now lives in LA. We're going to start by talking about the term chino, which means Chinese in Spanish, but it's often used in Latin America to refer to all Asians or even anyone who looks vaguely Asian regardless of where they may have come from. So let's jump straight into the conversation. So David, you know, you actually wrote to our producer Genesee mocha, and you basically a lot you wrote. You're like, okay, I gotta tell I gotta ask something of Latino USA. So what was the question? So the question that I wanted to try and figure out was how do other Asians identify coming from Latino background? My name is David Chang. And I grew go into Chinese Emerson school and speaking Spanish at home. Tino in Latin America, a lot of people that are are called chino. You know that could be from Creon backgrounds. It could be from Japanese backgrounds. They could be from a number of different Asian backgrounds, but they're still considered chino and growing up. I think I heard that word a lot both in Latino communities that grew up around friends from central America, South America. I also grew up in California. So I look Filipina, and I would just by my own family members be called Gino or just in the streets of L A B called Gina. My name's Christie Ozorio. I was born in Los Angeles to a Filipino and Salvador, Ian couple, I actually asked my mom about this. I was like, so what do you think about this? And she's the Filipina and she's like, oh, yeah. She no that's just a cute way of saying like Asian girl on Mike. Okay. Cool because you know, I get called chino. And she's like what you're not Chinese. I don't get it. Like, how do you really feel about this? I mean, personally for me, I think growing up in California a lot of people have really embraced it. Like, I ride by this car every single day that has she need though as a giant sticker on the back of the car. So I don't know you have to put it in context. And it's all about like intent to someone's trying to use that word derogatory towards me. I'm like, I'm not feeling it. But if someone wanted to just call me a Cina because it's an term of endearment than I'm all about it. So Bubalo you were a contestant on the moon show. Master chef Latino putting these misleading. In fact, I let go see the muster shipped Latini, and you had your own experience with this term genome. So tell us what that was when I'm public him. I was born in Argentina, my parents were both Korean and I moved to the states in two thousand I've been living here ever since this was about a year ago. And we were in Miami Goto. Brought to his brother racing. People are just referred to me as it, you know. And I'm like case like, it's cool. But you guys don't really know me all that much. When you don't know me. And you just me just because it's the easiest thing for you those like I kinda take offense to that. I think I've come to feel over the years that as long as I am not reduced to one unique characteristic of my appearance. I'm actually okay with it. But then again, it really comes back to the relationship with that person. Can I ask you guys? How often have you sat around and had conversations about being letty? No Latino and Asian the first conversation if anything was with my parents because they were the ones that kind of had to street in a lot of things. Hi, my name's Sophie Khan. I am bicultural and bilingual, and bisexual, and my parents are Mexican Pakistani. And I am all of that. I didn't really realize what I was until I had a babysitter that what you know. A lot of my babysitter's were either black Regan and on. So you can imagine what my Spanish sounded like like, mommy, you'll get all those phone you'll get and so. Like, what are you getting to sponge from and I'm like well. Yeah. That's that's that's how talked knowing. She's like, no me. Ha she's like, then it wasn't until later like this. She explained she's like, no, you're you're babysitters Puerto Rican, and you were Mexican and Pakistani. So let's talk a little bit about the multiplicity of identity and how you guys kind of live with that. So David you've talked about, you know, when you go to Peru, which is your parent's homeland being Chinese for you is essentially just being Peruvian because it's pretty common. Correct. But when you come back to the United States, you're Peruvian side, basically disappears in everybody just sees you as Chinese I grew up in the neighborhood that had a lot of people from Latin America from those from you gotta while from that quarter. They always saw me as Chinese even though you know, we would speak Spanish amongst friends and amongst family members. They always tell me as this other person. And I think that was really hard growing up on the other side. I also went to Chinese emerging school in San Francisco where a lot of the people that I went to school with where from Cantonese backgrounds or know Chinese-speaking backgrounds, and I'd go to their houses on play dates or just to have fun, and I wouldn't be able to interact with our families which made it really difficult for me. They basically said, you know, you're not necessarily Chinese shaking your head. You're like we're doing video collie. You're shaking your head. Yes. Yes. Yes. What was that about? I mean, I've gone through the same. The very same experience were I've actually lived in Mexico City. I've lived in Korea in I've had the chance to be fully rejected by people from all over the place. It's a tough pill to swallow. It's no no being rejected by people that look exactly like you because you may not necessarily speak the language perfectly or because you just dress differently. So it's it's kinda hard. I'm like nodding my head to I'm like almost to tears because feeling rejected from like every culture is really hard. Hard. It's like, you're never Filipino enough. You're never Salvadorian enough and definitely not white. And so you're probably saying, yeah. All of that confusion, and then some yeah, I've had a lot of what I called my gestation chronicles, and I was living in east LA one time. I was asking a cashier who I say was lengthy. No, I asked him. What was like, hey, like how much is this parking water, and he's asking his BAAs and in Spanish, right? And the guy goes on, you know, just go rela single knoll Yossi. Selene the old the-an that narrow. Over charter because you know, those Indian folks rich they gotta made. And I was like, oh they've heard of that. I said why they haunt. Those are welcome. And I don't know if I can see them. My gosh. All right. So you grew up in Argentina. And I'm wondering if there's this notion there of Asians being the model minority. I mean, that's often the stereotype here in the United States. But did you have to face that in Argentina? Or are there different stereotypes there when I was in Argentina Asia's over their business owners, my parents are interpreters themselves. Everybody in my family are enterpreneurs in. We would get a lot of people saying, no, you guys are welcome here. Because no you guys are here. Breaking your bags doing everything that you guys need to do educating yourself and establishing something for yourselves. So we would get that on Sundays, and we will get the go back to the country on some others. Mostly when customers we're not happy with whatever they bought. Your favorite food, which one is it is it Latino or Asian David which one. I would say it's lucky favorite proving dishes, probably like cycle and also growing up in California, just like Britos and tacos and one time I went to a park in the bottle of up DO shattered on the floor. And I almost cried. So. And so he what what's your favorite food? My favorite food has been the food that my parents make and it's sometimes it'll be mix. My mom will make that goes chicken Tikka masala taco she'd be like we're gonna take your dad's leftovers from yesterday. We're gonna put it THEO van you go dinner. Coming up on new USA our conversation about being Asian and let me know continues. Stay with us. I'm Bob Boylan creator of the tiny concert series. We've just launched the twenty nineteen tiny desk. Contest. It's our search for the next great undiscovered artist. The winner gets to play a tiny desk concert. It'll change your life. Find out more at NPR dot org slash tiny desk. Contest. He we're Bank. And when we left off we were talking about stereotypes of Asians in Latin America and about Asian versus letting food. And now, I'm going to share a story about food from my very first trip to Asia. I remember when the first time in my life that I went to Asia it was early in the morning, and we started walking the streets, and we came upon a bakery in Taipei Taiwan. You guys I totally freaked out because I looked in the window. And I was like this is a Mexican bakery. They have gone Chaz. They had own is they have like it was the same kind of bakery goods. I was freaking out. I literally had one of those moments where I was like, oh my God my roots. My Mexican roots are in Asia as well. For me. Everybody's trying to divide us send us back home. But actually like seeing the gunshot a Mexican bread in Taipei. I was like, nah, we are totally the same people either that or Mexicans are everywhere. Like, there's there's one thing that I notice between the Mexican culture, and they Korean culture is that we both liked beans. We all have short tempers, and both coaches are very family oriented, there are really more things that United dividers. And I don't see why people don't see those things issues escapes me. Why why we do these species, really? You know, if you are that connects and Asian right now in the United States of America, you are part of the two fastest growing demographic groups in our country. So is some ways people might say, you guys are like the superheroes of the film. Have you flipped it? So that you guys are like, you know, forget all y'all who are excluding us. We understand deeply that. We have this superpower that just reminds me of an experience where I think growing up late at a lot of soccer. And a lot of times you come across people that were like such a neat though. Right. So that's kind of like my Trump card like I could be here and play in both places and in both cultures at once. I think that's also played out in my career as well. I navigate a lot of different communities and spaces. Speaking Spanish has definitely helped me communicate with a lot of different communities that can't speak up for themselves and kind of navigating different relationships and trying to highlight different stories and people's voices. So I think language has definitely helped me be in two different places at once. So so being able to speak Chinese Cantonese and Mandarin and then also Spanish as well as help me and have the world a little bit better Kristie. I kinda see my superpower as like super validation, where I'm like, you know, people might not think I'm Filipina for Salvadorian enough or whatever. But I'm like, hey, my experiences are real and your experiences are real. And I'm here to witness that for you. 'cause I am I didn't necessarily have that for myself. Growing up you were mentioning like Asian and Latin next communities are going or the next largest population in the United States. And for me, it's always been split. Like, you're either in or your Latin, and I wanna make sure that Asian Latin x communities are also being represented in that demographic as well because we're all mating with each other. Don't forget about all of us here. The been like we're like the off shoots of all these great population growth. So. Yeah, I mean, I think it's a log me to have great empathy for folks that have been ostracized from their communities. I have a special kinship for letting owes that maybe have been here in the US for about five generations, or whatever and don't know Spanish and get bothered when someone speaks to them in Spanish, and they feel like oh, man. I should know. But I don't know. No. And they feel like less than I get it because I don't speak fluent or do more like don't I don't speak it. So it's it's it's just I think that's would it's a lot of me to be is just have a lot of empathy for folks on and again folks that have been Desai's from different communities. So I guess just to end how have you found the place that has made you feel whole what have you done? How have you founded or are you still struggling than let's start with David? I think something that has helped in terms of finding a place that I can say that it's helped me center myself is definitely amongst family and friends who also identify as coming from this lat next Asian background so trying to find people that are like minded, and and can relate and have those similar stories. What about you Kristy? Yeah. I feel so lucky to like have moved to a area where there's just a lot of people from different backgrounds, and it's made me feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I think growing up in white suburbs. Really messed me up. Like, it was, you know, there was this really big time of like just being called all these types of things not feeling accepted in any community. And then finally just like taking off and going to college and meeting new people, even if they weren't necessarily Asian Latin x just like hearing other people's experiences to like has really helped. And actually what I really really appreciate is these conversations being put out in media so much I've been really really feeling certain outlets like Ramezanzadeh, why do so many Latinos were chino to describe Asian people? And better like, I'm half, Taiwanese and half Brazilian Mexican and Filipino. They talked about these types of things I was recently watching this on Univision like what that like for the first time ever in my life, like they acknowledged Asian Latinos. And this was like last week bob'll everybody who. Who knows me has known me for over a decade will tell you that I am constantly reinventing myself, I pick and choose whatever is more of an teachers from me at the time in the position that I am depending on what I'm trying to do. So in a way, I think I have a pretty stable core. But at the same time, I want to tell you that is constantly shifting. There's always something changing. And they're all this competitions are great because they shed light on things that are oftentimes if Nord, and I think that that's even going on into this political sphere and everything that's going on. And we only get to understand these things once we are made aware, and I think that is it's a lifelong process where we're always trying to see and discover ourselves and try to understand why we do the things that we do. I would say understanding that bubble grew up in Argentina where there is a lot of psycho. Therapy. That was really well done. Highest ratio per capita of therapists to human beings. So that was very eloquent true story true story. So fi just wrap it up. I love in the community. I mean, you wanna talk about like a community of folks that have gone through so much within their own families within society within like different issues in the legal system. That's where I kind of find a safe haven to be quite honest, where not getting picked on because I don't because I don't know how to make the mollis or I'm not getting picked on because I messed up and ate with my left hand because a left hand is considered the dirty honed in a slum and the right Hon is considered the clean, and you know, like, I just being me and loving and connecting. And it's love is love. And in the end love wins. Guys. Thank you so much for speaking with me so fee. Con Bubalo Kim Cristiano Saudi and David Chang. Thank you so much for opening your hearts and sharing with us. We really appreciate it as many. Mighty affects. David Chan is a project coordinator for a nonprofit in San Francisco Christie or Saudi is a community organizer in the bay area. Pablo Kim is a chef and entrepreneur. And Sophie Khan is an actress who stars in the award winning one woman show called nexus Donnie growing up Mexican and Pakistan e in America, and I wanna thank all of them so much for such an honest conversation. This episode was produced by Janice woke up and edited by Marlin Bishop to let you know USA team includes the Musseuw's so. Yep. Lisa. Antonio he Maggie freeling and say or give with help from my equity. Additional Eddie by Elsa. Mcadam? Our engineers are Steph the bow. And Julia Crusoe production manager, isn't that a few holds our interns are Carolina giving and Lucas third. Our theme music was composed by saying yet, if you like the music you heard on the Sepah we should've stopped by let USA dot Oregon. Check out our weekly Spotify, platelets and one more thing for our podcast listeners. 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Hosa and next time on let the USA conversation with jazz musician and director of the afro Latin jazz work, stra o'farrell. We talk about his latest project fandango at the wall. That's next time on the USA. Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from the American Jewish World Service working together for more than thirty years to build a more just and equitable world. Learn more at AJ, WS dot ORG.