Fu Man “Who?” – Understanding The Complex Emotions Of Being An Asian-American Man

In a lot of ways our computers, video games, and homework have all been a great distraction for us Asian Men. A porcelain tub we lean back in with eyes closed, dunking our cold and pale bodies as the water blurs our vision and capsizes our eardrums till we can’t hear or see the outside world’s bullshit. We log in, check out, and let all the voices of society silence themselves to sleep while we level up our way to emotional bliss. We escape the pain.

Asian guys are nerds who stay on the computer all the time.

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I hate watching American sitcoms, they so rarely reflect the families us Asians grew up with. Most of us Whiz Kids were crafted in a factory that churned out star children; PhD machines who studied and calculated their way to an American dream that wasn’t even ours, but our parents’. It isn’t the dream we wanted but we still did it. Robots aren’t trained to think or decide for themselves. If you aren’t taught to value your own opinions and aspirations then what use is there in having feelings of your own? Feelings get you in trouble because feelings get in the way of The American Dram. You can’t do that.

My Asian ex-boyfriend never opened up to me.

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Asian American boys: the bastards of America. Our fathers are off on different shores in distant countries with wives and kids we never met, or up to their necks in TsingTao till their eyes turn red, or buried under a hundred other “gook” bodies that litter the the soils of the Korean and Vietnam War. So you take these fatherless children and expect them to become men yet you deny them the opportunity to see any Asian father figure on the T.V screen they’re cemented in front of. The screens they spend hours and hours in front of. To America it’s a mirror but to us it’s a screen that doesn’t look back. We keep looking but we still can’t find ourselves.

Why are Asian guys so weak and timid? They need to man up!

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What happens inside those tiny glowing screens? Like the sight of a thousand Chinese railroad workers hammering a steel nail into the ground the American message is simple and repeated over and over through caricatures and violent acts of racism: your father was no man, you are no man, and your kids will never be a man. Go home, little boy. You do not belong in the land of giants. Your voice does not matter because your voice isn’t loud enough.

This Asian guy I like won’t tell me if he likes me back. Why isn’t he speaking to me?

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The problem with being an Asian American Man is that you are stuck at a fork in the road but you’ve been told to stay still: while America tugs on your sense of identity and masculinity you want to push back and voice your concerns. But how do you teach a group of men to SPEAK UP when they were raised to politely raise their hands? How do you untangle these robot wires and let these men feel? We may ace and code our way to a middle-class but given the open floor beneath our feet where no one is willing to see us- not Asian women, not other men, not even Asians from Asia – what difference does it make what we think? It’s like we’re still on that railroad pounding away at the ground. This is our life.

I give up on Asian Men. 

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Asian Men are a complex and intricate group of individuals. Our own mental and emotional struggles are folded under our pillow by our unrelenting desire to succeed. To prove our worth to our parents that we can do it. That their efforts to cross those seas were not in vain. Dad, I can do it. Mom, I’ll make you proud. But when the the duty of your family pulls us to the right, the hunger to find our own identity yanks to the left, societal pressure drags us down, and the women who love us want us to stand up, we are bound to rip apart like a paper doll being fed into a room with paper shredders on all four walls.

I don’t understand Asian Men.

And you never will…

Because we don’t understand either.

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Why You Suck At Interracial Dating: You Want Him To Look Asian But Act “Caucasian”

As a professional Internetz navigator, I have learned to develop a thick skin for stupid comments. Youtube comments, Facebook comments, and yes, WorldStarHipHop comments. I avoid responding to idiotic comments since I have zero patience to debate the logistics of blackface with a 34-year old manlet from Kentucky. In rare instances, a comment or two will jolt through my system and I’ll feel a sudden urge to speak up.

This was one of those instances.

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I get it, she had a blast with Mr. Italy – that’s cool! Heck, that guy could have treated her out to Sizzler on an early bird special and finished the night eating a cannoli out of her cornhole – WHO KNOWS?! But why the comparison? Why do Asian men need to learn a lesson from Italian Men? And why am I so upset about this minor, no-need-to-worry comment that could have been flicked like the booger it was? Simple: a lot of people who date interracially fail to understand the qualities of an ethnic group because they’re constantly comparing it to others.

This is a driving force as to why people think Asians are shy, Blacks are aggressive, and Latinas are sex-crazy. Instead of appreciating the aspects of one culture as a unique and individual category, they constantly weigh it against a particular standard (which is generally White, Western culture.) They may see a cute Asian guy who failed to maintain eye contact and they’ll propagate, “ugh! He’s so shy! Why can’t he be like White guys and just look at me?!” Instead, she could have asked, “Does he come from a place where eye contact is disrespectful? Is eye contact only reserved for close friends and lovers? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!”

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“He grabbed by boob 8 times. But why? Wait… isn’t 8 a lucky number in China? SWEET!”

Too often I see this comparison made. It’s almost as if people wanna date Asians but are secretly looking for all the characteristics of a Southern White guy or a New York Black guy (whatever the hell that means.) This makes just as much sense as visiting the local Sushi bar, ordering a spicy tuna roll only to complain, “ugh! this tastes nothing like a bacon double cheeseburger!”

Furthermore, I think there’s another discreet yet equally damaging effect that develops when you’re always measuring the quality of cultures in reference to another: language. Asians guys are timid compared to Blacks. Black women are ratchet compared to Asians. Asian women are docile compared to Whites. White men are more stable than Latinos. These note cards organized in our compendium of language, though tiny and modest in appearance, begin to construct a dictionary used to define that ethnic group.

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Sadly, THIS was how America used to compare and define its members…

It starts to turn into: Asian guys aren’t just more timid compared to blacks, they ARE timid by definition. But are they? As easy as it is to view Asian men as too shy or too weak and that they need to “learn from Italian men,” couldn’t that same Asian man say, “that Black girl was too aggressive and too violent for my taste”? While she’s swooning over Mr. Italy’s generosity and canoli-eating skills, what if he’s looking back at her as easy and gullible compared to Italian girls?

Why It Matters

"Oh hey there! I'm just about to pour you some tea!"

“Oh hey there! You’re just in time for a nice cup of tea!”

In your quest to find love outside the colored box you were drawn into, you will meet someone. You’ll meet a great man or woman and they’ll be the opposite of you with hair that feels lighter, eyes that look darker, or skin that tastes sweeter. They may may be concerned about different political issues or social issues, have contrasting expectations for who does the dishes or an assorted  opinion on how loud is loud when talking on the phone.

These are some of the moments you might expect from an interracial relationship.

Moments when your expectations collide with theirs. If you’ve listened to what I was trying to say, if you know how to accept the beauty and the individuality and the specificity of each culture as they are, without lamenting over how right or wrong it is compared to your own culture or another, if you can do that you’ll not only be equipped with the knowledge of interracial dating 101, but you won’t fret over a collision of cultures because you managed to find harmony between them.

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The Asian “I Love You”: When His ‘I Love You’ Is Different From Yours

I guess you could call me lucky.

DAT HAIR GAME DOE

DAT HAIR GAME DOE

Growing up, I was an incredibly tame yet cheerful child. I’m willing to wager that this was due to my close bond with my Mom. Even to this day, she’ll ask me to sit on her lap like some 160 lb man-child while she recollects stories from my childhood. The struggles we went through when our family immigrated and what a blessing I was in her life. Most importantly, she said and still says: I love you – and I’ll say it back.

I guess you could call me lucky because when you compare my warm upbringing to the one other Asian Americans and Asians experienced, like a debate over which is better, Pho or Ramen, the two are total opposites:

You could brush it off and say, well, that’s the culture! They say I love you in different ways! True. Very true. But when you’re an Asian American man dating interracially and your wife is, say, African American or Latina American and they are used to expressing their appreciation and love in a most verbose way, using carefully chosen words to convey their emotions, where does the Asian “I love you” factor into it all? What happens when verbal and non-verbal “I love you’s” collide?

"What the hell, man! Why didn't she swoon over my cover of Maxwell? I KNEW I should have given the final rose to the Black chick with the natural hair!!"

“What the hell, man! Why didn’t she swoon over my cover of Maxwell? I KNEW I should have given the final rose to the Black chick with the natural hair!!”

Each and every one of us regardless of culture or gender all possess a unique set of love languages: ways that we feel love. For many Asian cultures, love is shown through gifts and actions. That’s probably why the parents of your Asian boyfriend of 2 years haven’t said they love you but they always bring over food or give you plastic bags filled free slippers or apples. Random gestures that, in your western mind, may mean nothing but, to them, mean everything.

"Bai Li, I bought this Physics book at the garage sale so you can prepare for 3rd grade! WHAT? Not Interested?! YOU DON'T LOVE ME!!!"

“Bai Li, I bought this Physics book at the garage sale so you can prepare for 3rd grade! WHAT? Not Interested?! YOU DON’T LOVE ME!!!”

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Western love: it’s shown through words and touch. Peek your head into any sleezy nightclub and you’ll definitely see guys wording and touching their way into a girl’s heart via “let me touch your boobs.” See where things get complicated? See why interracial dating in the AMXF landscape can be so difficult? The way a person demonstrates love is often the method they expect to see it returned. A kiss for a kiss, not a kiss for a bag of persimmons.

So tonight, ladies and gentleman, when you go to bed next to your Asian boyfriend or Latina American girlfriend, make sure you show your love in a way they can understand. Be it a foot rub, a surprise cookie from Ms. Fields, whispers of sweet nothings into their ear, or a gentle kiss on the cheek. And maybe then they’ll close their eyes, kiss you back and think to themselves…

“How did I get so lucky?”

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K-Pop Changed My Life: How K-Pop Taught Me How To Be Asian American

In many ways, K-Pop has changed my life.

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You see, K-Pop isn’t just a plate of abs that look like inverted ice cube trays or ridiculously stylish dudes singing god knows what. To me, it means more. To us, the Asian American community, it means much, much more. The arrival of K-Pop on American shores serves as a watershed moment in which Asian Americans were finally able to look down into a puddle of airbrushed idols and superstars and ask themselves…

Is that… me? Is that what I look like? Is that… who I really am?

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Growing up I never had Asian action figures. Mine were always beefy White men with marble sized eyes and noses shaped like arrowheads. I idolized the manliness of Don Draper from Mad Men and wished I were as tall and beautiful as Adam Levine. But I never thought about it from a racial point of view. I didn’t have to question it because I just accepted it. Because that was just what men looked like. That is what the hero looked like. That is what a masculine, sexy man did: he rappelled down a building, all 6 foot 2 of himself, and saved the day with his super White self. And I loved it.

So when K-Pop came around I was confused. I wasn’t used to seeing Asian people in such high production videos and films. I wasn’t used to them taking off their shirt, or kissing other women, or acting sexy. That’s not an Asian Guy! Where’s the Kung-Fu? Where’s his calculator? He’s the sidekick of some taller White guy – where that guy? Is this a mistake? It must be a mistake! To see nothing but effeminate Asian Men growing up was quite damaging. I saw it all and wondered if I was destined to be half a man, but what made it worse was the rest of the country seemed to agree.

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It’s funny. If you look at this blog and go back far enough, you will arrive at a place where there are no photos of Asian Men or K-Pop stars. You know why? That’s before I knew about K-Pop. And why did that suddenly change to a bright splash of yellow? Simple: When I discovered K-Pop and realized the endless supply of people who looked like me, in non-stereotypical ways, with emotions and expressions and styles that represented who I was, I made a promise to use nothing but Asian Men in my photos. I don’t plan on going back either.

"Go back? BISHHH, SWERVE!"

“Go back? BISHHH, SWERVE!”

In all honesty, I actually dislike most K-Pop music. Not because of something inherent about Korean Pop, but I just hate most Pop in general. I’m more of a Jazz Man. Nevertheless, I will be forever grateful for those dancing and singing machines half-way around the world because for the first time in my life, they made me feel like I was something more. More than just a side-kick, more than just an owner of a Dry Cleaners, more than just a caricature. I can be the hero who rappels down the building, all 5 foot 7 (and a half!) of myself to save my girlfriend from a sneezing cold or my career from spiraling into an expected heap of Nursing, Engineering, or Accounting.

K-Pop changed my life, and the lives of many Asian Americans, not because it gave us a new standard, a new identity to aspire to…

K-Pop changed our lives because it wiped the white tile clean, painted it yellow, and said, “here… now it’s your turn.”

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The Main Reason Why Interracial Dating Is Taking So Long To Catch On

We 2014’ers all know the feeling.

You’re downloading something and the progress window pops up: 5 minutes remaining.

DA F*CK?! I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS BULLSHIT!

Gaksital Kang To Crying

“HIGH SPEED INTERNET MY ASS!”

You stop the download, delete it, and spend another 20 minutes finding a faster download. But remember when you downloaded a SINGLE song from Napster and it took damn near a full day? Perhaps that’s the symptom of living a high-speed life: once you hit 90 mph you expect everything – from the time it takes to get an even, orange-julius shade skin tan to your quest to find 1-minute ramen noodles that cook in 55 seconds  – to go just as fast. Once you go fast, you can’t go back. Our impatience also extends beyond the microwave (the one in your kitchen and in the tanning salon) and into the world of Interracial Dating.

Every so often I’ll hear someone bicker about why Asian Men haven’t stepped and sped up in the American dating game. It’s like we’re in the Olympics of dating and love making and our coach, aka, society, is egging us on to flirt and fuck faster. “You call that a thrust?! THRUST THOSE PALE THINGS! THRUST! THRUST!”

"OH GOD! MY ASS IS CRAMPING! IS THIS NORMAL?!"

“OH GOD! MY ASS IS CRAMPING! IS THIS NORMAL?!”

Now, I could do to your brain what Anton Chigurh did to his victims’ foreheads in “No Country for Old Men” with my bare knowledge on why it’s taking Asian Men so long to step up their dating game, but I think we need to discuss an even bigger issue. One that I think is impacting the Interracial Dating progress of not only Asian Men, but Black Men and Women, and *gasp* White Men as well.

Time

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Do you know how long it took to see an Asian guy get some action on T.V? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY SLEEPLESS NIGHTS WE’VE WAITED?!

Perhaps you need a refresher but the legalization of Interracial Marriage via Loving v. Virginia happened just shy of 50 years ago. It’s been 50 years and we’re BARELY starting to see Interracial Relationships gain visibility in the media. And even in those instances there’s still hostility against a goddamn Cheerios commercial. So if we can’t even get a collective “hell yea!” for the poster-child of Interracial Dating in America (Black and White couples) then how the hell can we expect faster progress for Asian Men and Non-Asian Women (AMXF)? Why are we in such a rush to raise our crosses and crusade towards the “Asian Men need to man the f*ck up and start asking Black/White/Latina women out on dates” cause when we can’t even get Black and White couples comfortably settled in?

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Now, this isn’t to say that we should get lazy and stop our push towards a better, more confident Asian Man who isn’t afraid to make some Blasian Super Babies by the dozens, but we should be patient. This isn’t an iTunes song we’re downloading, this is social, racial progress. We have made great strides within these past few years but it will take even more time. And that’s a reality many of us find difficult to digest. To know that, sometimes, progress in life will take much longer than the 5 minutes it takes to buffer Grand Theft Auto 5.

So be patient, my Asian Man-loving, Interracial Dating brothers and sisters. I want to see that Blasian Super Baby society just as bad as you do but we need to chill out and let time take its course. Hell, it might even take another ten, thirty, or fifty years.

But Ranier, what should I do till then?!”

THRUST! THRUST!

"Time to lube up!"

“Time to lube up!”

A Message To My Biggest Fan: Rest In Peace, Jason Kinnison-Holmes

At 8:34pm this morning I received an email from Ama Yawson with the title: The article is live. Please share it. Ama is a writer for the Huffington Post and she interviewed me as part of her series highlighting the gift of individuality as presented in her children’s book, Sunne’s Gift.

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Minutes after sharing, my Facebook notification bar blew up with cheers and congratulations. My family, high school friends, and blog readers came in unison to pat me on the back. My girlfriend, Livi, asked me, “how do you feel?” “I don’t know, I’m excited. I’m still digesting it.” As blessed as I felt, bathed in this giant pool of compliments, I felt something was missing. Hours later I found out why:

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Jason Kinnison-Holmes was a long-time blog reader of mine residing half-way around the world in Runcorn, UK, age unknown, cosplay expert, and one prone to seizures. We first spoke in 2011 when he messaged me out of the blue:

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Since then, Jason had always been that fan who would message me and ask questions that I would always try and avoid. Not because I thought he was annoying, but because his questions were. Even though my response would take days, sometimes weeks, he would still be there, eyes peeled to the screen to hear my next bit of rushed advice. Most of his inquiries were in regards to Asian women since that was his interest. As an interracial dating writer that focuses on Asian Male centric dating, I found it quite interesting that this random Black Man from the UK saw me as trustworthy.

“Can I ask a question? How can I deal with her mood swings?”
“How do you and Livi make things work?”
“I need your help! She’s pissed off bigtime because I showed her a quote on my phone’s lock screen saying “Love is… Wonderful!” and she started going crazy at me because I had a innocent picture of a girl in a Gothic Lolita dress instead of one of her, the problem being that I don’t have one of her.”

I don’t even write for this guy’s demographic! I have nothing to say about Asian women! I’m not that blogger! Still, he continued to message, seek advice, and follow my every word. One day, he messaged me with excitement about a woman he had met: Aya, a Filipina girl from Japan. I could tell he was finally happy, and so was I. But even outside my blogging, Jason had always been a pro-Ranier kind of guy.

Any time I posted anything, he would always pop up with encouraging words. “I agree!” “Great post!” “Another awesome blog!” One day, he asked me for my address and a few weeks later I received a postcard. Months after, I received another. A couple months after that, another.

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Perhaps I have a soft-spot for things done the old fashioned way, but there’s something so romantic, thoughtful, and caring about a post-card stamped, written, and sent by hand. I didn’t expect anything less of him.

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I guess what I’m trying to say through all of this is you can’t underestimate the weight of someone’s heart just because your only connection with them is online. Be it my friendship with Jason, or Jason’s love with Aya all the way across Japan. And although I can embrace the likes and shares and comments from my dearest fans, my heart is really missing one of those comments from Jason. I know he would be proud of me. I know he would re-post it and say something cheesy. But I don’t care. He was always a much better friend to me than I to him. He would have been such a great boyfriend to Aya, or even a great father. He would have made her so incredibly happy – with or without my advice.

As I sit back and scroll through the images of his face, with those eyes full of thought and curiosity, I can’t help but let the soft roll of tears crash loudly on my lap.  I miss you, Jason… I should have responded faster. I should have taken more time giving you the advice you deserved. I should have written back. I would have written back.

 

I can’t write back…

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I haven’t been active on this blog in quite some time and had intended on not doing so, but just for you, knowing how much you appreciated me and how much you supported me, I will go back. For you. To help someone who might be just like you. Because the Jason’s of this world deserve the time of day and, of course, their very own postcard.

PCD

Be well and may your soul dance freely among every hall of every comic-con and anime convention your heart desires.

With great Love.
Your friend and fan,

Ranier Maningding

“What Kind of Asian Are You?” – An Asian Man Dressed as Other Asians

Every Asian person has heard that magical question before.

“What kind of Asian are you?”

This question is often followed by a series of random guesses. “No no, I got it! You are, uhhh… KOREAN! No! Wait, Cambodian?” I can see them studying my face trying to measure the angle of my slanted eyes. Or the bridge of my nose, the shape of my jaw, and the shade of yellow on my skin. It’s interesting: they have absolutely no clue what to look for and yet, they truly believe that the hours they’ve spent watching Asian porn and dining at the local Chinese takeout restaurant have bestowed upon them the ability to guess my ethnicity. And when I tell em’ their wager is wrong they think I’m lying.

“Filipino? NO YOU ARE NOT! Are you sure? I think you’re Chinese.”

I sometimes wonder how these idiots change their behavior once  they figure out which Asian I am. Do they change their approach or speak to me differently now that I’ve been exposed as one Asian over another? Most importantly, what Asian do I myself identify with? Well, here’s my answer:

Some days I wake up with a quiet calm inside my chest. I move around the house methodically, moving each of my limbs one by one like an animatronic robot in Disneyland. Here, I feel Japanese.

Other days I might be cruising through East Side San Jose with my shades on. The smell of sweat and gasoline, the screeching of tires and the sound of clanking utensils reverberating throughout a run-down pho shop. Now, I’m Vietnamese.

Then, in a split second, I’ll switch on some K-Pop and BAM! I’m no longer Ranier Maningding, I’m Ryung Minjun. My eyes gaze harder and my shirt starts to unbutton itself.

As an Asian-American, all of us are asked to check one box. Korean? You’re Asian. Japanese? Asian. Filipino, Taiwanese, Cambodian, Laotion, Vietnamese, or Hmong? Asian. Sometimes this can give you the sensation that your identity doesn’t matter. But to me, it does. Being Asian-American means I can blur the lines between which Asian I want to be today, and the one I choose tomorrow.

Care for some Chinese?