I first heard about Steve Harvey poking fun at Asian men via a friend's Facebook share. A couple of days later, a post by Eddie Huang popped up while I was browsing Instagram, where he referred to his article in The New York Times. The author of Fresh off the Boat and the owner of Baohaus talked about many "myths" about Asians, including that "Asian men are inept and undesirable to any women outside their race."

There have been a few subsequent opinion articles written in response to the above. Most discussed topics like racism are still alive in 2017, including the expectation and stereotypes "the dominant culture" places on Asian-Americans.

Turns out there are many expectations and presumptions placed on other Asians too. Being Asian-Australian, I felt fairly comfortable being identified as Australian while I lived down under. This all unraveled when I moved to the States. People do not look at me and immediately think: yes, she's Australian, because to them, I do not look Australian. Instead, they either assume I'm from Asia or ask questions like: you have an accent — an accent that's neither Asian nor American — "were you educated in the UK"?

Dear readers: perhaps I have a more toned-down Aussie accent, but it certainly would not sound British to a British person. This, coupled with the Steve Harvey incidence, made me start introducing myself as Chinese when asked where I'm from. People may wonder where my "non-Chinese accent" comes from, but at least I finally found a sense of belonging and acceptance. Just within the last year, I grew to love my culture: the food, the values, and pretty much everything else too.

Stereotypes about other Asians

Huang says that "the structural emasculation of Asian men in all forms of media became a self-fulfilling prophecy that produced an actual abhorrence to Asian men in the real world". The truth is that people hold stereotypes about Asian women too.

I was discussing the Steve Harvey incidence with a friend, and the question, "why are there more white male and Asian female couples than the other way around?" came up. His explanation was: we tend to view Asian women as more submissive. Therefore, when Western men are seeking these values, they have to resort to dating Asian women. Of course, no one can prove the statement that Asian women are on average more submissive, but, I do see a whole lot of presumption and over-generalization in the statement.

Is Harvey the only person of influence that has made racial remarks? Absolutely not. Russell Peters does it a lot in his shows. A quick Googling revealed a few blog posts where Peters has been called a "racist". However, by and large, Peters doesn't seem to have been subject to as much media scrutiny as Harvey. Perhaps, Harvey is more constrained in what he's allowed to say, because he is a talk show host as opposed to a stand-up comedian. People in a sense expect the latter to make statements that would appear obscene in ordinary situations. 

Which brings up the question: how much "freedom of speech" is too much, if the limit exists (no Mean Girls reference intended)? Messages sent by people like Harvey and Huang with millions of followers on their social media channels can have powerful influences. Most recently, Rishi Kapoor, arguably the most famous actor in India, made a series of tweets during the cricket Champions Trophy final, in which he called Pakistanis terrorists and poked fun of their lack of "fluency in English", both of which remarks are highly questionable. Unfortunately there is no way of controlling or monitoring what they post on social media, and I'm sure many believe that everyone has the right to "freedom of speech". Nevertheless, let me just end my rambling by asking, is it really OK for Harvey to make the remarks he made? And I don't know the answer to this myself.

Standing up for your race

Another point I do admire Huang for is the fact that he's standing up for his race. While there are many cultures and ethnic groups that are known of standing up for their heritage, it is relatively rare to hear the same stories about Asians. I am unsure why this is the case, nor do I support the powerful blindly promoting their own people at the expense of economic efficiency. However, it is nevertheless interesting to observe that Huang is one of the few Asian public figures that have done this. Also, the Asian-style buns at his East Village restaurant Baohaus are amazing. Just saying

I know this article is a little late since the Steve Harvey remark happened much earlier this year. But hey, I got busy with school, and it's always work/study before play for Chinese people, right, Mr Harvey?