Like many of you, I have heard of this site in some casual conversations, but never had the chance to check into it until my cousin Trina, who was inspired by her friend Kimi, who heard about it from her sister, Tami, blogged about it.  The site is called www.alllookthesame.com and it tests your ability to see if you can distinguish a person’s Asian ethnicity: Chinese, Japanese or Korean.  Now this is one of those sites that can be really dangerous in the minds of idiots or a great discussion starter for those who want to engage in thoughtful discourse . . . one guess as to which group I think YOU are in.

Just to be fair here is all the site claims:

China, Japan, Korea: What’s the difference? Do they all look the same,
or are they very distinct? Is there any truth to the stereotype, or is
it ignorance? Well, enter the exam room here
and find out for yourself. We have eight tests in different categories
such as face, art, architecture, and food. Remember: We are not here to
make a statement; it’s a question. Good luck and enjoy.

Of course the Face Test is the most popular, but the others are pretty interesting as well. The big question for me is, what is the point?  Why does it matter that
we bring up and focus on this ongoing stereotype about "All Asians Looking the Same?"  If we just ignore the behavior, won’t go away?  Well, I suppose that is one way to approach it, but not mine.  Plus, as I raise my three daughters who are mixed, but look Asian, I think it is very important to keep these conversations on the table, not to perpetuate beahvior, but to bring them to light and create transformation.

And while I understand well-intentioned folks who want to avoid any discomfort that is brought up when talking about race, the reality for many folks is that if we do not bring up issues and practices that power and influence that affirm race-based discrimination/preference/stereotyping, then those who have been historically/systematically/institutionally left out will continue to be so.

More specifically, this is my case for keeping these conversations on the table . . .

  • Disclaimer: I do realize that, like any public conversations about race, people who are uneducated and outwardly bigoted yahoos are going to be that way no matter what I or anyone says.  In all honesty, I leave that to that person and God and don’t feel the need to take on or change them.  My hope is to engage folks who are asking the questions, "But why?"
  • GRRRR ONE: Because it still happens.  I don’t know how many times I have been confused for another Asian person who they happen to know.  Case in point, in the past, as a Presbyterian Pastor with a few skilz at preaching, I have been a speaker at youth retreats in various places  around the country.  Now, I love my denomination for many reasons, but the reality is that we are white, white, white, about 95% or something like that.  The number of Asian American pastors, leaders and speakers is not all that high, and we probably all really do know each other.
  • GRRRR TWO: The mistaken identity  might be innocent or unintentional, but so what?  What it tells me is that whoever has made the mistake has stopped their understanding of me at the color of my skin.  They may have appreciated what I said, even had a conversation with me, but in the end, I am still that "Asian" guy . . .
  • GRRRR THREE: When this happens, I can’t let people off the hook, but I always seem to.  When a white person comes up to me and says, "Hey Rodger, mistaking me for Rodger Nishioka" I always want to say, "Hey Chandler, how’s Ross?"  But alas . . . I do not.  The other response, I have is to provide justification for them, "Well, they just don’t see many Asians, so how can we expect them to tell us apart?"  Huh?  I am thinking that it just hurts your case if you only have to calculate differences between two people.  Heck I have been at youth conferences with 1200 screaming Southern kids and have been able to recognize people after having a conversation with them.  Hmmmmmm . . . . easier to tell apart the two Asian guys or 1200 Southern white kids?
  • GRRRR FOUR: "Well, maybe you DO look alike."  Yes, I could give this a go, especially when I have mentally made that mistake myself.  Though in my defense, I would say that the people I do identify incorrectly actually DO look like the person I thought they were. Can that be said for me?  Here are the people I have been mistaken for . . .

NishiokaPeter_1Rev_lee2_smallChung

Bruce2

Rodger Nishioka, Peter Choi, John Lee, and Kye Chung.   All dead ringers for me, the last one 😉  And forget the fact that I am also the shortest of them all . . . but that’s another issue. 

So . . . no real  moral/lesson/epiphany, just a realization that this stuff still exists as well as a cathartic release to help me to keep laughing so I won’t cry 😉 

Just for kicks, here are a few other interesting posts that I found when I blog-googled "All Asians Look the Same."

Just for the record, I scored a "9/OK/50%" on both the  Face AND Food Test, apparently I don’t REALLY know Korean people OR food ;-).

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