Eul Basa 「13 Struggles Of Being The Token Asian Friend」

Posted on April 25, 2016
It’s not fun.

Tokenization. Anyone can fall victim to it, regardless of your race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Popular culture has made the concept of the “token friend” somewhat a societal norm; but just because it’s become relatively commonplace in our society today, doesn’t mean it’s okay.

Calling someone a “token friend” is almost like implying that that person should act in a way that is in line with someone else’s stereotypical idea of their culture.

Being tokenized sucks, whether you’re a “token black friend,” a “token gay friend” or a “token asian friend.” Below are 13 struggles of the third type.

P.S. Obviously not all friends of Asians that are guilty of these things (but if you are... that’s a shame):

1. Your friends rely on you to help them with their math homework (even if you aren’t good at math).
But when it comes to English homework they don’t go anywhere near you.

2. Your friends assume that you’re an expert at everything Asian.
“Is Japan in China”
“What’s the chemical composition of rice”
“Who invented the chopstick”
“You’re Asian you should know these things”

3. Your friends don’t know the difference between Asian ethnicities.
Friend: You’re like Chinese right
You: No I’m Japanese
Friend: Same thing

4. Your friends think Asian itself is an ethnicity.
It’s like saying Caucasian is an ethnicity. It just isn’t.

5. Your friends have used the sentence formula “you’re ____ for an Asian” on you.
Especially with the word “pretty” in the blank.

6. Your friends make remarks about Asians but they think it’s okay because they’re friends with you.
“Asians can’t drive”
“All Asians know karate”
“Asians all look the same”
“It’s okay I can say this I have Asian friends”

7. Your friends never fail to comment on your “Asian glow” when you drink.
“Wow you’re soooooo red right now”
“What’s wrong with you”
“Are you okay”

8. Your friends assume your biggest ambition in life is to become a doctor.
And they laugh at any Asians who say they’re aspiring actors. “Good luck in Hollywood”

9. Your friends assume you’re ballin’.
But also question whether your LV bag is fake.

10. Your friends always ask about your school lunches.
*looks terrified* “What is that”
“Is that Peking duck”
“Omg rice is your fav isn’t it”

11. Your friends think you speak all Asian languages and expect you to translate overheard conversations.
Random Person: *speaking Indonesian*
Friend: What’s she saying
You: I’m Vietnamese
Friend: Exactly you should know

12. Your friends assume you can read Chinese characters.
Fun fact: Not all Asians are Chinese

13. Your friends think you’re only into other Asians.
Friend: How about that guy *nudges head in direction of a passing Asian*
You: Eh, not really my type
Friend: But he’s Asian

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Eul Basa
Hi, I’m Eul. I have a Biology degree from the University of Waterloo. Somehow I ended up as the Content Strategist for Narcity Media. I write stuff but I’m no journalist. I dabble in a lot of things. My best friend is a fluffy pup that thinks it’s human. 80’s remixes of contemporary songs are my guilty pleasure. My aesthetic is a wet slice of bread in a pink bathtub. You probably won’t get my sense of humour. Creative people inspire me.



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