I Want White People’s Lunch!

Growing up in the 90’s as an Asian-American kid was interesting. And unless you were a kid of an immigrant family, no one really understands or get your experiences.

So it’s been a trip watching ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat.” Though the character (and the writer of the memoir the show is based off of) is Chinese, there are so many things that I could relate to; things that made me laugh. And it’s good that I can laugh about it now.

I remember all the white kids making fun of my lunch that my mom so lovingly packed. And just how… foreign and different I felt. It was something I never thought twice of eating until all the kids pointed it out. “What is that?!? Gross.”
I made a huge deal of it. I’m sure I did. I don’t remember, but I’m sure I did. And I probably hurt my mom’s feelings by refusing to eat what she packed. From that day on (first grade), everyday for lunch was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until graduation — unless I bought lunch. And I know many of us immigrant kids told our parents in one form or another, “I want white people’s lunch!”
The desire to fit in –to belong– was intense even in elementary school days. And being literally the only one of your kind in a big school was lonesome.

I also don’t know why I found such affinity with N.W.A (btw, is anyone else excited about the Straight Outta Compton movie?), Tupac — with hip-hop in general. Also Eddie’s (the main character) desire to own a pair of Jordan’s was a desire of mine all throughout my adolescence. I sometimes feel like I’m watching an exaggerated version of my childhood.

Is the show good? I don’t know. I find it funny now that the scars obtained throughout my childhood because I was different; because I was singled out as a Chink, Gook, ChingChong, slant-eyed, etc have long healed and faded away. I watch and I laugh, because it’s so relatable; because in a sense it’s the only thing on TV that ever capture my childhood. I watch because, at least for me, this is one of the most honest and accurate depictions of growing up Asian in this country. Granted, it’s still Hollywood’s version, but still — nothing like this really ever existed in the small screen (and I’m totally ignoring the fact that All American Girl ever happened.)
Again, is it a good show? I can’t tell you because I don’t know if what I find funny is something a non-immigrant-Asian person will find funny. I hope that show grows and that the characters develop instead of being one-sided like a few of the characters.

While the show lasts, it’s nice to see Asian-American actors get jobs and it’s also nice to see experiences of my childhood being represented on TV like never before.

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