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SO MAYBE the above scenario is slightly exaggerated. Then again, for many citizens of Canada/USA/England/Australia who are of Asian descent, it’s probably bang on. I’m Filipino by heritage, but was born and raised in Canada. I’ve always considered myself Canadian first and foremost. The worst part is, I don’t look like a typical Filipino. Not many people can guess my heritage. I get Spanish, South American, even Indian (both from India and Native American). I can blend well into any country made up mostly of brown people. In Cuba I can be Cuban; in Mexico I can be Mexican; in Thailand I can be Thai. I’ve even been asked if I was Chinese while in China.
But once people are on to it and know I’m Filipino, I get statements of similar sentiment as those in the video above. Technically it’s probably racist, but I can certainly understand the phenomenon. If I’m perfectly honest, I’ve done the same thing when I’ve met people who were from some country I’ve visited and made some connection with. Having lived in Australia for two years I can’t help but feel a certain affinity for anyone from down under. Even if they’re from New Zealand (I knew a lot of Kiwis in Oz).
And that’s what I feel it’s all about. The intention is making connection, to show an appreciation for a culture. Of course I get where this can all go wrong, like when the person is trying to prove he/she isn’t racist or homophobic (“I have lots of gay friends! I love your people.”).
For me it’s trying to discern the intent. If it’s coming from an innocent place of respect I can let these transgressions slide.