I love gifts. I appreciate that someone cared enough to pick me up a trinket when they travel. I feel good knowing someone expended the effort to pick out a birthday/christmas/insert holiday gift during that season. It warms me that I was in your thoughts when you were feeling generous.
However, do not feel it is necessary to buy me a gift to remind me that I am Asian.
Case in point: I had a lovely co-worker at UCLA who showed me the ropes when I was starting out in regulatory management. She was very informative, kind, and ribald (she spent her lunch breaks showing me pictures of funny penises on Craigslist). She surprised me with an early Christmas present one year: a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. She knew I liked Disneyland so, appropriate, yes? Well...
"I saw it and knew it was perfect for you! It's Asian and Mickey!"
Friendly Co-worker, thank you. I know you have bills to pay and mouths to feed. It means a lot that you spent part of your meager state salary on little ol' me. But a shirt with giant Asian-style characters in gold spray paint?
I did buy her a gift in return. I don't remember what it was, but rest assured I didn't buy her a grass skirt and coconut bra to remind her that she's Tahitian.
Even my credit card company feels the need to remind me. I was reissued a card in the mail, and unsolicited I received one covered in chinese characters. WHAAAAAAT.
There are exceptions to this rule. Par example, fun honeymooning couple got me an awesome tank with this written on it:
Here's why this is OK:
- It hella cute. No garish asian letters I don't understand. No vaguely oriental emblems, no tired Asian-isms (although if this catches on, it may become one. I will be on the look out for that.)
-It hella true. Let's be honest here guys. I am not a bad looking lady. Also, I own like, four shirts with unicorns on them. When not wearing them ironically, it's pretty darn cute.
-It hella is something I'd expect from them. Bride friend is a huge David and Goliath fan. They both know my sense of humor and picked something not because it was asian (and hey, coincidence, I'm Asian!), but because it was funny and very me.
But certainly, this is the exception that proves the rule.
So guys, next time you're out there shopping for your friendly neighborhood Asian, no matter the occasion, please, for everyone's sake, don't forget: they already know they're Asian.