Thursday, March 18, 2010

OMG... The Tyra Show?!

Okay, so yes, I admit that I occasionally watch the Tyra Show (I'm also addicited to ANTM... but that's another blog), but today had an interesting topic.

They brought on a group of girls who were all of mixed raced, but preferred to be identified as one over the other and most of them pretty much hated when someone said they were of the less-liked race (a half white, half black girl hated being called black; a half Latina, half white hated being called white, etc.). So, basically, the whole show was about stereotypes of races and breaking them down. It ended with the usual afterschool special speech about how you should judge people for who they are, not how they look.

Which of course got me thinking about life in Korea. It's kind of interesting see discrimination and stereotypes from the other side. It just sucks. Seeing friends get turned down for work. Hearing about how this guy won't date that girl because she's black or vice versa. People getting dirty looks on the street or yelled at. The Anti-English Spectrum. Stupid stuff like that.

And of course... I think about how I must look to Korean society. I haven't really gotten any sort of outright discrimination, but the stereotypes are there. I'm a young, American girl so I must like to party and be easy. Or just here for a good time, thus deserve no respect from co-workers in the office. It's not nearly as bad as others, but still frustrating. I almost punched the last guy who came up to me asking if I was Russian with that 'knowing look' in his eye. It's just downright uncomfortable. (Especially since it was followed by "You're a very sexual looking girl." Yeesh. I was jeans and a heavy wool coat at the time...)

But then, I admit that I have my own stereotypes. African men (not African American just to clarify) terrify me from my few experiences with them in Korea. I end up looking at the sidewalk half the time I'm in Itaewon. I hate going to Itaewon, because I don't want people to think I'm just another party-hardy English teacher. (Yes... silly, I know.) I tend to get annoyed by Army people. (And lo and behold... I end up dating a guy in the Air Force...) I've never really known a lesbian, so they make me kind of uncomfortable. And I tend to think that most Korean guys are idiots who would rather sleep with a white girl than date them or have a serious relationship.

So... we all have our stereotypes... mostly based off our personal experiences, be they limited or vast. And no one likes admitting it, but everyone has them. I guess the only real thing to do is try to be open to breaking them. Give someone a chance to prove you wrong, and chances are they just might. I've had the extreme joy of meeting a huge variety of friends both in the States and here, and I cherish all them, be they black, white, Muslim, Korean, military, English teachers, atheist, blue, pink, purple or have spiky green hair. There is a lot to learn. And I guess, I hope that if I'm more open to others, they'll be more open to me.

Stereotypes don't just break on their own.

... Okay... now I sound like an afterschool special...

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