WBEZ | Race: Out Loud http://www.wbez.org/tags/race-out-loud-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Asian-American men less likely to date interacially http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/asian-american-men-less-likely-date-interacially-102033 <p><p>Who you date - as well as who you marry - is one of the most intensely personal decisions someone makes. So it&rsquo;s easy to overlook the broader role society, culture and yes, even race plays in that decision.</p><p>Hardy Kim is a second generation Korean-American. He grew up in Gross Pointe, Michigan, and now lives in Oak Park. From an early age, he was told he needed to marry a Korean woman. So naturally, he rebelled.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t necessarily say to myself, I wouldn&rsquo;t marry a Korean-American woman, but I definitely thought, there&rsquo;s no way I am going to marry a women straight from Korea,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Marriage rates across the U.S. are generally declining. But they&rsquo;re still high for Asian-Americans. As one of the smallest racial minorities here, it&rsquo;s not that surprising Asians have <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2012/02/SDT-Intermarriage-II.pdf">some of the highest rates of interracial marriage</a>. But Asian-American women are twice as likely as their male counterparts to marry outside their race.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s why.</p><p><a href="http://www.asian-nation.org/interracial.shtml">C.N. Le</a>&rsquo;s a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He said that if you look at marriage from a traditional standpoint, many people have viewed it as a way to become more economically successful &ndash; or at least, stable.</p><p>&ldquo;So you would think based on that sort of traditional motivation women would marry the most socioeconomically successful men. If that were the sole criteria, then Asian-American men would be near the top of the list,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But &ndash; they&rsquo;re not. Asian-American men are second only to black women for having the lowest rates of interracial marriage.</p><p>Le thinks at least part of this is due to pervasive cultural stereotypes. You know them: Asian-American men are at best nerdy, at worst, neutered or not masculine enough. Le says that creates what he calls a &ldquo;cultural penalty&rdquo; in the dating world. And then he cited <a href="http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/04/13/single-female-seeking-same-race-male/">research</a> that actually quantifies this.</p><p>&ldquo;In crunching the numbers, they found on an aggregate level, Latino men have to make something like $70,000 more than a comparable white man for a white women to be open to dating them,&rdquo; he said, adding for African-American men, that figure is closer to $120,000.</p><p>For Asian-American men? It&rsquo;s $250,000 more than a comparable white male would make.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s kind of telling,&rdquo; Le said.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s not clear how many Asian-American men are looking for white women to marry.</p><p><img alt="The Kims" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/The%20Kims%20fun%20pic%20resized.jpg" style="float: left; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 2px; " title="(Photo courtesy of the Kims)" />There&rsquo;s a trend of Korean-American marriages incorporating a lot of older traditions in wedding ceremonies. Hardy Kim sees a lot of symbolism in those old traditions, like the parents throwing chesnuts and dates at the bride and groom (that&#39;s supposed to symolize how many children, by gender, the couple will have). At the end of the ceremony, there&rsquo;s a part where the man has to show his ability to carry forward the life of his bride. So, he&rsquo;s supposed to literally pick up his bride and carry her around. Then, he has to do the same to his mother.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, because, he&rsquo;s taking care of his family, too,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Hardy did end up marrying someone straight from Korea &ndash; but they met here, while they were both studying in Chicago. They&rsquo;ve been happily married for nine years, with two kids, a boy and a girl. The children have Korean and American names.</p><p><a href="https://www.facebook.com/prateekcomedy">Prateek Srivastava</a> is a standup comedian. He&rsquo;s 25. He grew up in Lombard but now he lives in Logan Square.<img alt="Prateek Srivastava onstage." class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Prateek%20Resized.jpg" style="float: right; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; " title="(Photo courtesy of Prateek Srivastava)" /></p><p>He&rsquo;s dated both Indians and non-Indians, and when the girl isn&rsquo;t Indian, the fact that he has come up &ndash; often at &ldquo;weird points&rdquo;, he says, in the relationship.</p><p>Once, he and a girlfriend were talking about movies of their childhood, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came up.</p><p>There&rsquo;s that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7J-RRv5PcKA&amp;feature=related">scene</a> where an Indian guy eats someone&rsquo;s heart.</p><p>&ldquo;And so she said, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m just saying, I don&rsquo;t think you guys eat hearts but do you think maybe at some point in the past they used to eat hearts?&rsquo;,&rdquo; he recounted. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m like, no, nobody ate hearts. I mean, most Indians are vegetarian.&rdquo;</p><p>I asked Prateek if it would be easier if he dated an Indian girl or another Asian - or if his parents expect him to end up with an Indian. He doesn&#39;t have a preference either way. And, his parents haven&rsquo;t really put pressure on him to date only Indians. But the women he dates assume they have.</p><p>&ldquo;In one recent relationship this girl was like, &#39;Is this a temporary thing, or are you going to be able to introduce me to your parents?&#39;,&rdquo; Prateek recalls, adding that he thinks it&rsquo;s interesting that even across Indian families, he knows that families can be liberal or conversative.</p><p>&ldquo;People just assume we&rsquo;re homogenous - but we&rsquo;re not,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Forget putting just all South Asians into one group. Outside of this country, people of nationalities like Japanese or Indian or Korea would never think of themselves all as being put into one big category.</p><p>This is naturally reflected in marriages here, where<a href="http://www.asian-nation.org/interracial.shtml"> Koreans are less likely than Japanese or Indian people</a> to marry outside their ethnic groups.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think any of us is really born Asian-American, I think that most of us are who are born here go through a similar sort of phase process,&rdquo; said Jeff Yang, who writes the <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/tag/tao-jones/">Tao Jones</a> column for the Wall Street Journal. He likes to point out that concept of &ldquo;Asian American&rdquo; as a singular group is a uniquely American one.</p><p>Yang says Asian-American identity usually starts in college, where many Asians &ndash; he jokingly refers to the University of California schools as the Historically Asian colleges &ndash; tend to congregate.</p><p>That kind of commonality is even playing itself out in marriage data: of Asian-Americans marrying other Asian-Americans. Researchers call it inter-ethnic Asian marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;The fastest number of Asian-Americans who are not marrying Asians of their own ethnicity are marrying other ethnicities,&rdquo; Yang said. &ldquo;This is something which I think is culturally the product of some really interesting phenomena.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="Norm Leong (left) at a TAP-Chicago Happy Hour this past Spring." class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NormHH%20Resized.jpg" style="border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; float: left; margin: 2px; " title="(Photo courtesy of Norm Leong &amp; TAP Chicago)" />Take Norm Leong. He spends most of his social life with other Asians, even if they aren&rsquo;t Chinese, like his family.</p><p>His Facebook profile is full of pictures of him on Chicago&rsquo;s Asian-American scene, everything from <a href="http://tapchicago.org/">TAP &ndash; Chicago</a> (the Taiwanese American Professional Group), to <a href="http://www.ascenechicago.com/">Ascene</a>, an online magazine that also holds monthly events, to the <a href="http://aajachicago.wordpress.com/">Asian American Journalists Association</a> (full disclosure: where this reporter first met Norm).</p><p>He&rsquo;s 28. He says TAP is his favorite group &ndash; he&rsquo;s even on their board, even though he&rsquo;s not Taiwanese. He lives in Schaumburg, where he grew up.</p><p>&ldquo;My parents are very, very, very traditional,&rdquo; Norm said. &ldquo;So they&rsquo;ve always been like, you know have to date and marry a Chinese Asian girl. They pretty much said, &#39;Norm, if you don&rsquo;t give me Chinese grandchildren, we will be very sad and we will be unhappy with you&#39;.&rdquo;</p><p>Norm sort of listens. He says he&rsquo;s really only ever been attracted to women of East Asian descent, so that&rsquo;s who he dates &ndash; even women who aren&rsquo;t Chinese.</p><p>His younger brother married outside their race &ndash; as did many of his cousins. Norm says that does put more pressure on him. But he says when he&rsquo;s ready to marry, it will be his choice - not his parents.</p><p>The data looking at Asians marrying other Asians is just a few years old. But if people like Norm Leong are well, the norm, it could continue.</p></p> Wed, 29 Aug 2012 21:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/asian-american-men-less-likely-date-interacially-102033 The cultural oddness of yellow cake http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/cultural-oddness-yellow-cake-101954 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/yellow cake by Rachel Hathaway flickr_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I&rsquo;m typically a pretty confident human being, especially about race; I&rsquo;ve been proud to be black my whole life. But something happened to me recently that made me check my self-righteous black pride.</p><p>I was writing one afternoon in a swanky cafe on the North Side, when a middle-aged black woman walked in. She wore a navy top and pants with lime green accents. Her caramel-colored hair was cut short into a natural. When the teenage, blond girl behind the counter asked for her order, the woman asked, &quot;Do you have any yellow cake with chocolate frosting?&quot;</p><p>The girl told her that the cakes in the case were preselected flavors. &quot;Let me go get the list,&quot; she said.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m just looking for yellow cake with chocolate frosting.&quot; The woman spoke clearly, like she was talking to a child.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t know what&#39;s in the case today,&quot; the girl replied, her face knitted with confusion. &quot;I have to check the list.&quot;</p><p>As she turned her back to get the list, I cringed. Look around you, Sister, I thought. Does <em>this</em> look like the kind of place where you get yellow cake with chocolate frosting?</p><p><em>&ldquo;What&#39;s the big deal, Jess?&rdquo;</em> you&#39;re thinking. &ldquo;<em>The woman&#39;s in a bakery. She&#39;s got a reasonable expectation of finding yellow cake with chocolate frosting.&rdquo;</em></p><p>You&rsquo;re right; yet I was mortified, watching the exchange play out. Here&#39;s the problem: yellow cake belongs to the black community. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is served at black Baptist church picnics, beside fried chicken and potato salad. Yellow cake is dessert at both my grandmothers&#39; holiday dinners of turkey, chitlins, greens with ham hocks and macaroni and cheese. Yellow cake reeks of &quot;black folk&quot;. Yellow cake is not what you see in counters of posh bakeries beside colorful French <em>macarons</em> and cupcakes with names like &ldquo;Berry Patch&rdquo; and &ldquo;Ginger Dreamsicle.&rdquo;</p><p>When I was a young girl, my father told me never to be late. He didn&rsquo;t want anyone assume about me&mdash;and by extension about him&mdash;that I was a black person running on &ldquo;colored people&rdquo; time. I&rsquo;d worked hard at overcoming stereotypes like these. But that afternoon in that café, I couldn&rsquo;t hide from yellow cake. Dig: it&rsquo;s <em>yellow</em> cake; not vanilla, not banana or lemon, but yellow. What the hell kind of flavor is <em>yellow</em>?</p><p>Yellow Cake had found me. This woman showed our shared stereotype to a white girl, and she did so proudly. She can&rsquo;t do that; stereotypes don&rsquo;t inspire pride, they create disgust. This woman walked into a bakery with the word <em>patisserie</em> emblazoned on the wall in fuchsia neon, and had the nerve to ask for yellow cake. She&rsquo;d thrown down her black club membership card with authority, daring that little white girl to say boo at her. She&#39;d outted herself, and she&#39;d outted me, too.</p><p>The girl returned to the counter with a paper with a heavy, annoyed sigh. She read off several cake flavors: almond cake with chocolate crème brulée filling and chocolate buttercream frosting?</p><p>&quot;No,&quot; said the woman with a shake of her head.</p><p>Banana cake with chocolate mousse filling and vanilla buttercream frosting?</p><p>&quot;No.&quot;</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s all we have in the case,&quot; said the girl, resting the paper on the glass.</p><p>&ldquo;You mean you never have yellow cake with chocolate frosting?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Well, you can preorder a cake whatever you want, basically.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh,&rdquo; said the woman, visibly pleased.</p><p>I tore myself away from the exchange and tried to return to my work, but I couldn&rsquo;t shake this feeling. I was angry at her. That woman looked ridiculous coming in there trying to order yellow cake. Where did she think she was, the supermarket bakery? These shi-shi white folks don&rsquo;t know nothin&rsquo; about yellow cake. She made us all look bad when she did stuff like that. Based on the education in her voice, she ought to know better than to ask at a tony bakery for yellow cake. She should show some thoughtfulness and not look so much like a country bumpkin.</p><p>The heat of my reaction stunned me. Immediately on the heels of my surprise, my shame deepened. How could I have judged this woman this way? What right had I to believe that a black woman with a wallet full of money doesn&rsquo;t have the right to walk into a business and order any damn thing she pleases, regardless of whether the clerk has heard of &ldquo;yellow cake?&rdquo; When I watched that woman order, I&rsquo;d wanted to hide my race, to pretend my identity didn&rsquo;t exist. She&rsquo;d thrust her blackness, and mine, into my face and the faces of every white person there, and rather than feel pride or delight, I&rsquo;d felt shame. By trying to control her behavior, I made a statement about my hang-ups over stereotypes, about my racial identity. I may think, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m black and I&rsquo;m proud,&rdquo; but not that day. Instead I was insecure and nervous, afraid of being called pickaninny.</p><p>I left the café stinging with humility. My mind&rsquo;s not always as broad as I might like for it to be. But I&rsquo;m not so far gone that I can&rsquo;t learn to make space for some stereotypes. If I really love my identity, I have to be willing to &ldquo;do black&rdquo; however I do, and to accept this woman&rsquo;s version of &ldquo;doing black&rdquo; too. Yellow cake may be part of the black story, but it&rsquo;s not the single black story. Stereotypes like yellow cake are harmful when it&rsquo;s all that we share; but when we acknowledge it as a small part of our larger, collective experience, then we can appreciate it for the tasty treat it just might be.</p></p> Tue, 28 Aug 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/cultural-oddness-yellow-cake-101954 Race Out Loud: Arab store owner on working in Englewood http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/race-out-loud-arab-store-owner-working-englewood-101917 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/store owner.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Race: Out Loud</em> this week is all about attitude. &nbsp;That includes the perceptions people of different backgrounds sometimes have of one another--especially when they share a neighborhood.&nbsp;</p><p>In many African American neighborhoods in Chicago, tension simmers between black customers and Arab corner store owners.&nbsp;The tension is often around this stereotype: outsiders doing business in low-income neighborhoods.&nbsp;But who are the Middle Eastern immigrants who set up shop in black communities, where their corner stores thrive, in part because the areas lack grocery stores. &nbsp;One Arab businessman talks about his relationships with his customers, and Chicago.&nbsp;</p><p>Mohammad Bani Yassin co-owns Mali Foods on West 69th Street. He sells Kool-Aid and candy, cereal and cigarettes, T-shirts and toilet paper. No liquor because it&rsquo;s against his Muslim faith.</p><p>Yassin is stocky with a thick mustache. He wears a light blue workman&rsquo;s jacket. Seven days a week he works behind the glass-encased counter.</p><p>In the background, Yassin, a native of Jordan, &nbsp;listens to the news in Arabic.</p><p>Yassin says it&rsquo;s not a hard life in America.</p><p>YASSIN: About me, about my life I did not try to do anything wrong. I&rsquo;m not smoke cigarettes, I&rsquo;m not smoke weed, I&rsquo;m not drinking alcohol, I&rsquo;m not go to the boat. I don&rsquo;t do girls, you know. That&rsquo;s me. My life is straight.</p><p>In many communities, customers complain about poor service and poor food selections at corner stores.</p><p>But Yassin says his relationship with black customers in this Englewood neighborhood is good. He says he&rsquo;s polite and sells items to customers even if they&rsquo;re a quarter short. &nbsp;I&rsquo;ve noticed a vibe of mutual respect and friendliness.<br /><br />YASSIN: When I&rsquo;m coming here, talk with me this location is tough location. But I make friendship with all the people here. All of them now my friends.<br /><br />Yassin was born in a village in north Jordan in 1944. He says he served in the military and worked for a biscuit maker.<br /><br />Divorced with 15 children, Yassin came to the States in 2005 upon the advice of a cousin who lives here.<br /><br />Yassin began working in Chicago&rsquo;s &nbsp;South Shore area at fast-food places and grocery stores.<br /><br />YASSIN: I can&rsquo;t go to work construction. I can do it but about my age it&rsquo;s easy to work in grocery stores like this.<br /><br />A friend from Palestine had this store on West 69th Street and needed someone he could trust to help run it. &nbsp;<br /><br />The store name was supposed to be Malik, an Arabic word. In the paperwork, the name got misspelled to Mali. &nbsp;<br /><br />Yassin moved up from worker to co-owner several months ago.<br /><br />Yassin has no plans to move back to Jordan, even though he loves his homeland. And there&rsquo;s another reason he wants to stay -- his wife of three years.<br /><br />They met at a J&amp;J Fish restaurant where Yassin worked the cash register. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />YASSIN: &nbsp;She order same order. She like wings, she likes gizzards. I don&rsquo;t like gizzards. One day she&rsquo;s coming in, she was mad, mad. I ask her why you mad?<br /><br />Yassin says the Haitian woman told him that her husband had died. He gave her a discount. She continued coming in for her chicken. A relationship blossomed and they married.<br /><br />The couple lives on the North Side near Devon Avenue.<br /><br />Although he&rsquo;s in an interracial relationship, race isn&rsquo;t something Yassin thought about in his homeland.<br /><br />Now he&rsquo;s confronted with race living in America.<br /><br />YASSIN: I&rsquo;m not white or black. Pakistani, Indian, what we call him? Something coming from Egyptian, from Syria, from Iranian. Many countries. I don&rsquo;t know what you call them.<br /><br />Yassin acknowledges his Arab heritage. But when people ask him what his roots are--he simply tells them he was born in Jordan.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/race-out-loud-arab-store-owner-working-englewood-101917