Quintessentially Chinese: Money, Money, Money Edition
We Asians, particularly those of smokey-yellow skin, are apparently businesspeople to the core. This is our stereotype. My friend Tariq Kamal wrote, "the Chinese vote for whoever is good for business." Many Malaysian-Chinese families I know are apolitical, unruffled by the prospect of moving to other shores if it means a better life. It would explain the scores of Chinese I meet here who come for the paper degree in order to secure good jobs for their future.
The stereotype implies that there is no artistry in the Chinese, no passion, only a focus on wealth management. Our racist stereotype for Singaporeans (predominantly Chinese) is that they're materialistic, kiasu (always wanting to one-up another, snobby). In the Malay Dilemma, good Dr. Mahathir used evolutionary psych (and we know we're in trouble when a politician uses evo psych but this made sense to me) to point out the difference between the Chinese and Malay work ethics: the Chinese had to work hard in order to survive, because a ton of really awful shit goes down in China every so often, apparently, so when they came to Malaya, they brought their work ethic, and thrived as a result; on the other hand, the Malays didn't really have much else to do but plant the paddy fields and watch the rice grow, apparently, so when the Chinese came, the Malays were outclassed.
I'd lol but this has been a bit of a sticking point for me for a while not, because it is not entirely true that the Chinese have no artistry. I mean, did you guys see the freaking Beijing Olympics? Let me assure you that that is not the only Great Chinese Show on this good green earth of such resplendence. Of course, it's not too difficult to pull it off because China has got a ton of bodies to spare.
But anyways, back to the stereotype. I was telling Ay-Leen the Peacemaker the other day about a little skit I had in mind, wherein our two characters would have a confrontation, pull guns on each other, and finish by saying, "of course, we both know... killing each other would be bad for business."
It's funny because it's true. Killing each other is bad for business. Can't get anything done if we're dead.
I laughed and I said to her, "the's so stereotypically Asian".
And then it kinda stopped being funny anymore. Although within the context of the skit, it would have been awesome and hilarious. So it got me thinking.
Chinese in certain quarters are called "Jews of the East", purely due to the money-grubbiness of our yellow hands, because we certainly aren't being persecuted leftrightcenter (OK, so the Japanese went to Chinese shores and the Rape of Nanking happened and Chinese were persecuted in Malaya and that shit was horrible and evil but on the whole it's been mostly Chinese hating on each other) -- and still, in the end, I'm not sure what the problem is.
Sooooooooo, we like monies. What's wrong with that? Lots of people like monies. Monies does useful things, you know, like, fund our hobbies or enable us to go to school without taking out student loans (yes, privilege, natch!) or retire comfortably or support our children when they go to school.
Sooooooooo, we're workaholics? Well, I'm not sure why this is our fault. If we didn't work, we would die. Way back when? Literally. Vita activa, my friends, is for some, not all, but still, very much for some.
Sooooooooo, we're hardworking and industrious and - this is a problem? I mean, if you fucking made us take leave and promised us we're still have a job we'd probably take that leave, you know. This is a baseline because many of us don't have a choice!
And this doesn't even only apply to Chinese - it can apply to so many other people in the world. Some people... just like working. I don't know, maybe we should just quit having expectations on Having It All, and just focus on Having What We Want.