Jungle Asian – This Is Who We Are

Let’s admit it folks, Americans can be some of the most myopic and culturally inept people on the planet. We live in one of the most diverse countries in the world yet many know nothing about the rich cultures of the people on our doorsteps.

Take the famous Texan, Hank Hill, for example. He’s known for his beer belly and cultural incompetency. He is the cartoon personification of traditional America. He’s confused when he meets Khan, his Lao neighbor, for the first time.

Hank asks with a southern drawl. “Let me get this right, you’re not Chinese or Japanese? So what kind of Asian are you?”

“I’m Laotian.” replies Khan.

“What ocean is that?”

Khan raises his voice, “I’m LAOTIAN, from Laos.”

Hank, still confused, “….So are you Chinese or Japanese?”

Hollywood Asian Vs Jungle Asian

Hollywood and media reinforces the idea that East Asians are the only ones that exist. For starters, Chinese, Japanese and Koreans aren’t the only Asian-Americans out there. They forget about the Jungle Asians – the Laotians, Cambodians, Vietnamese and Hmong Americans who come from Southeast Asia. There’s a big difference between Hollywood Asians (East Asia) and Jungle Asians (Southeast Asia). Here are a few stereotypical differences to further reinforce the false stereotypes.

  • Hollywood Asians will fix your computer. Jungle Asians will steal your car radio.
  • Hollywood Asians will tutor you in math. Jungle Asians will jump you after school.
  • Hollywood Asians are terrible drivers. Jungle Asians drive exceptionally well, especially in stolen Honda’s.
  • Hollywood Asians grew up playing the piano or violin. Jungle Asians grew up playing with their rubber flip-flops and empty soda cans.
  • Hollywood Asians own and operate supermarkets and restaurants. Jungle Asians operate the meat departments and kitchens.
  • Hollywood Asians love stinky tofu. Jungle Asians love chunks of pickled fermented fish.
  • Hollywood Asians will most likely be your family doctor or lawyer. Jungle Asians will most likely be your patient or criminal.
  • Hollywood Asians use Kung-Fu to kick ass and Tai-chi to exercise. Jungle Asians use nine millimeters to shoot from car windows.
  • Hollywood Asians have awesome gang names like Flying Dragons or Triads. Jungle Asians have ridiculous ones like Tiny Raskals or Menace of Destruction.

It’s time for my Southeast Asian peeps to represent. What are some other cultural distinctives that make us who we are?

8 thoughts on “Jungle Asian – This Is Who We Are

  1. This counter stereotype is flawed within itself, seeing as how the achievement rates between different Southeast Asian-American groups vary dramatically.
    Vietnamese-Americans for example lag behind East Asians and whites but they have far higher college degree attainment rates than Cambodians or Hmong.
    Filipino and Thai-Americans, neither of which are war refugee groups, actually have education attainment rates on par with East Asian-Americans and far higher than whites on average. This is all based on public census information, so feel free to confirm.

    • Your absolutely right that it is flawed, otherwise it wouldn’t be a stereotype. The list is not meant to be serious. But then again, stereotypes are based on small amounts of truth.

      Your public consensus data is spot on and in agreement with my own personal experiences. My Vietnamese friends were always smarter than me…and had more money too. We “war refugees” have always been at the bottom of the totem pole: economically, socially, academically and within church culture.

      Laughing about it among ourselves is healthy. Because this allows us to accept who we are and gives us the freedom to change the social norm.

      Peace!

      • You’re right, and I didn’t mean to come across so defensive. It’s just, I think there’s a fine line between acknowledging the truth and working for a better future vs just creating a new false stereotype. I’ve seen this data abused by white or even Asian supremacists to fit their pathetic agendas.
        What’s interesting is that I recently read a study that claimed recent Southeast Asian immigrants are perhaps doing even worse than earlier waves, despite newer immigrants having more of a support network. I don’t understand it..

        • Sorry if I sounded defensive as well. Thanks for your thoughts and I really appreciate the dialogue. My desire, as a reformed gang-banger and eternal Jungle Asian, is to stimulate hope. Transformation is inspirational. I’m really proud of Southeast Asians and how far we have come through so much struggle.

          You’re right, the new immigrants, like the Mon and Karen from Burma are going through the same things we did 30+ years ago. The cool thing is, our people are reaching out to them. That’s noteworthy.

          The only way to dis-spell stereotypes is to step out our front doors and get to know real people. Keep pressin on brotha. Oh, and, what the hell is an Asian supremacist anyways?? Are they supposed to be bald and tattooed? What does that make me? 🙂

  2. Considering that as you claim Americans/Hollywood doesn’t even know or care about the existence of jungle asians, who is creating these stereotypes? Just among the asians themselves? I’ve never heard of these before. Among fancy Asians they are looked down upon somewhat as being poor but they care more that blacks will come to steal the car radio not Filipinos.

    East Asians themselves barely exist in Hollywood media themselves since the demographic is too small. Jungle asians make a even smaller percentage= no money for Hollywood. It’s just a numbers game and not personal.

    • Uuuhh….I’m assuming your either white or Chinese.

      Ever heard of “FUBU”? It’s a ghetto fabulous clothing brand that was once popular with inner city folk like me back in the day. It means: “For Us, By Us”.

      Of course you never heard of these stereotypes. This article is FUBU – you have to be an insider to understand the humor.

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