Because I am incredibly particular about how I look in pictures, what I’m about to say may not have been all that apparent thus far. If I deem a picture good enough to put up here, then it can be verified. Please just take my word for it and trust that it is simply a preface for what I’m about to say afterward.
So, I’m Asian.
My grandparents all immigrated from
There’s that. Now to the episode at hand.
I came across a woman this afternoon with whom I have spoken before, but not extensively. After inquiring after JG and expressing appropriate sympathy for his ailment, she suggested a fail-proof remedy:
She: Have you heard of the brat diet?
She: B-R-A-T. Bananas, rice, apple juice, and toast. It never fails. Been using it for kids and adults for years.
I: Okay, thanks. That sounds like a good idea.
She: Well, judging from your eyes, I’m sure you know a lot about rice.
I bumbled around gathering my jaw up from the floor and thinking of a coherent response to this insane display of ignorance. I managed to choke out, “Oh, well, I’ve had a lot of rice in my time,” nervously chuckle, and walk away/flee. But I was actually fighting the urge to snap, “Yeah, I know a lot about rice… from when I worked in the freaking rice paddies.”
I drove home with that phrase echoing in my brain. “Judging from your eyes”?! It trumps the previous record-holder for Most Ignorant Thing I’ve Ever Heard Regarding Race (once proudly earned by the gem, “Do you speak English?”) by, oh, I don’t know – a whole darn lot. I don’t live in the most diverse of communities, but still, I was appalled. What if I had said to this overweight, middle-aged, white woman, “Judging from your build, I’m sure you know a lot about trans-fatty acids, white bread, and apple pie”? I would have felt like a total jerk, that’s what! And that feeling would have been totally deserved.
Upon relaying this exchange to JG, I asked if I had missed out on an opportunity to educate this woman amid my verbal clumsiness. He shook his head and asked, “What could you have said?” I can’t imagine that it would have been much more comfortable if I said, “I did have a lot of rice in my childhood, but what you said just now was pretty offensive to me.” Maybe it would have made a difference to the next person she encountered whose eyes indicated rice expertise. I don’t know.
Hours later, I am still dumbfounded.