Wednesday, June 26, 2013

FAQ I Get From Japanese People as an American/Hispanic

So, I decided to make a post about frequently asked questions I get from Japanese people. I have been meaning to do this for a while but only recently have I had time since I am on summer vacation.

Many of you know I talk to a few Japanese people online through language exchange websites and I had met many Japanese friends at UCI after joining JSA so I would often get asked several interesting questions so I thought I would write them down and address them.

Most of them just are just related to being American or Hispanic/Latino.

Btw, for those of you who don't know Hispanic/Latino are terms to refer to people from Latin American countries. Many Americans do not know this as well lol.

Now, on to the topics~

ETHNICITIES
Ok, this first one isn't a question but I noticed than many Japanese people (not all) see Americans as only white (and possibly black). But they often see a white person and associate them with being American. Or if you say you are from America online, they assume you are white.

This makes sense, since most Japanese associate foreigners with "blonde hair and blue eyes" but I think they forget that America is known as the "melting pot" and although we do have white people, we have more immigrants than anything else from many other countries.

I know it is different in other states (especially in the east) they mostly have conservative white people except New York lol (I'm being serious though). But in the west, especially California we have all kinds of ethnicities.

You walk out of your house and see Middle Eastern, Black, White, Hispanic, and Asians. There are even little towns dedicated to these ethnicities. I'm sure many know of Little Tokyo, K-town, and Chinatown.

There doesn't even need to be a city dedicated to Hispanics because of the huge amount of Hispanics that are everywhere -__- lol (but many times they are not too nice of areas though to be honest).

Of course, some cities have more ethnicities than others. Irvine is known for Asians (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc.) and white people, meanwhile Santa Ana is filled with Hispanics.

NATIONALITIES
Which leads to the next thing, even though we are another ethnicity is does not mean we are not American. We are still American, that is why there is Japanese-American, Korean-American, African-American, Mexican-American, etc. In Japanese I would say I am a ”メキシコ系アメリカ人”

Many people believe that I was born in Mexico because I am Mexican. Many of my Japanese friends at UCI would ask me, "How long have you been in America?" and "Why is your English so good?" which I guess is normal, people ask my mom this lol.

But, I was born in America and more specifically California. My parents came to America when they first got married in the 80s. I have been here my whole life.

Yes, I have been to Mexico but the place I go to is not nice like Cancun or anything. Many people associated Mexico with paradise and nice beaches lol. This is not just Japanese, other Americans do this too but that's would be another post lol.

Anyways, there are cases when people are born in other countries and move here but most of them have been here for years. We have what you call first generation, second generation, third generation [insert nationality here] Americans.

My parents are first generation Mexican-Americans because they immigrated here initially. Me and my sisters would be considered second generation Mexican-American since we were born here but our parents were the first ones to come to America.

My friend Tia is fourth generation Japanese-American because her parents were born in America, her grandparents were born in America, but her great grandparents weren't and immigrated here.

This seems confusing but sometimes people do ask "what generation are you?" however it's usually older people because it is more common if they immigrated.  Meanwhile, most younger people are born here however, there are some cases where people my age are immigrants as well.

LANGUAGE
Many people assume you only speak English if you are from America.

I often get asked online, "How come you speak Spanish" or  "How/Why did you learn Spanish?" This is probably attached to the notion of believing that everyone is white because then I explain that I am Hispanic.

But yes, there are other languages spoken in the U.S. especially California :D

Just yesterday, I was at the mall and my mom was speaking to the cashier in English, I was speaking to my mom in Spanish, I heard another little girl speaking to her mom in Spanish, and I heard a family next to me speaking in Mandarin.

Although English is the primary language, other languages are spoken. Spanish is the next most common language, that is why so many people study it in high school but most don't know how to say anything besides "hola" and "como estas" lol.

I do have some friends that speak some Spanish though, so don't be surprised if you do see a white, black, or Asian speaking Spanish fluently (although it is not common).

My friend Tony is Chinese but was born in Panama so he speaks Spanish fluently. Another friend who is Korean lived in Argentina for a while so he can also speak Spanish fluently.

Why is Spanish the next common language in California? Well, Mexico is right under California and believe it or not, California used to be part of Mexico way back when :o but that's another story haha. Point is, since Mexico is so close to California many people immigrate here.

It's seriously a two hour drive to Mexico from where I live, way less if you live in San Diego (like 30 minutes). Me and my sisters would joke that we would move to San Diego so we can cross the border whenever we want to get us some real tacos lol.

However, just because a person does speak Spanish does not mean that they are Mexican, there are many other Hispanics in California. Many Americans also get this messed up. But that's a whole other post haha.

And yes, there are many Asian people besides Chinese in California. While I was in Irvine, there would be Mitsuwa, Daiso, Bookoff like in Japan and the employees spoke in Japanese and English. And all the Korean restaurants there were people speaking in Korean.

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So, I hope this post was somewhat interesting. These questions aren't only questions I get from Japanese people I've just come across more Japanese people who ask me this. However, I get these questions from international people as well.

This is totally fine! I do not get upset because I don't know much about other countries either so who am I to judge? I have even had other Americans ask me weird questions but that can also be another post haha. So many side posts can be written from this post O__O lol

Anyways, hope you guys enjoyed this post and learned something new :]

*For specific the demographics in California click here. Wikipedia is awesome when it comes to these type of things, gives you some background history on Asian Americans Hispanic Americans, etc. and it's very interesting :D Well, to me it is lol.

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