Thursday, February 21, 2008

白人看不懂

Can you read the title of this post? Are you chuckling right now? Did you actually manage to read this post before class, even though I posted at 5-freaking-AM?

Translated from Chinese, with an extra dash of fluency thrown in, them words mean "White people can't read this." I laughed pretty hard when I first saw a T-shirt with that written across the front. I mean, how brilliant was that? It was all the times of being misunderstood, taken as Japanese, and being "ching-chang-chong"ed at, rolled up into one awesome slogan... and then you passive-aggressively stick the slogan on the back of an unsuspecting [white] schlub. Of course, there are white people who CAN read it, but they can never really understand how sweet it is to see it for the first time as a Chinese-literate Chinese-American.

The internet isn't telling me where this phrase came from, but it was at least popularized through the Yellow Fever video that took to the internet a few years back (if you haven't seen it: WATCH IT, it's hilarious). And then you get the groups on Facebook and other places, proudly waving the banner of 白人看不懂.

The phrase might have already passed its peak (perhaps like AzN pRyDe), but it still means something to those who can relate. It's in the same spirit as sites like Hanzi Smatter, which is basically a spit in the face of that "You're in America--Learn English!" attitude (I guess instead, it's saying "There are other people on this planet--Try not to look like a dumbass to 1/6 of them").

To me, it's also a clear wave "goodbye" to the days when we all wistfully hoped for the Melting Pot to actually smelt all the ethnicities together. Like those moments on Ally McBeal when Ling would just break out in Mandarin and take everyone else down a peg... it's really OWNING your language/heritage/ethnicity/culture and being proud of it.

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