An Open Letter to the Girl Whose Interracial Relationship Ended

(Photo by Shauntel Bruner via https://www.flickr.com/photos/follefille20/256052973/)
(Photo by Shauntel Bruner via https://www.flickr.com/photos/follefille20/256052973/)

I was shocked to learn your steady Asian boyfriend of several years had left you.

Even though we’ve never met in person, I feel like you’re an old friend. Maybe that’s because we’ve both been in interracial relationships with Asian men. Or because I came to know you through what you shared with me over the years. Or even because you’ve supported me when I needed it most.

So I don’t think it’s enough to just say, “I’m sorry.” Sorry is such a small word, and small comfort. Honestly, I would rather give you hugs, just holding you the way friends have for me when I’ve weathered breakups.

Although I wasn’t the one on the receiving end of this experience, I could feel your heartbreak in the messages you sent to me. I know what it’s like. I’ve had Asian boyfriends break up with me out of the blue. I’ve spent days, even weeks, mourning the loss of a relationship.

One Chinese guy left me after studying abroad in Europe; he just couldn’t manage the distance. Another said goodbye to me because his parents could never accept a foreign girl. There was also that young man studying in Nanjing who I was smitten with for months; things never got off the ground because his parents insisted he marry a Chinese girl. That felt almost as bad as a breakup.

All of these were relationships I desperately wanted to continue. They did not.

With every breakup or rejection, my heart shattered. Somehow, it felt even harder to carry this sadness with me in China. When these Chinese men said goodbye to me, sometimes I wondered if the country was doing the same. Especially when family got in the way. Why did his family have to stand in the way of love?

Let’s just say I’ve weathered a lot of negative experiences in the dating world here in China.

You told me you still have hope. Hope was one thing that always guided me through the darkest hours of these breakups, resurrecting my ability to love again.

I feel like hope is as magical as love itself.

But then again, so is friendship. So remember you always have friends, like me. If you’re ever feeling lonely or desperate for someone to talk to, I’ll be here. We’ll survive this breakup together.

Guest Post: Lessons in Korean cuisine from my Korean ex

Just because you break up with your boyfriend doesn’t mean you have to break up with his cuisine too.

Sveta and her Korean boyfriend parted ways several years back but she continues her love affair with the spicy flavors he once introduced to her — flavors that she never expected to crave. It’s amazing how a relationship, even when it’s over, can influence you in delightfully positive ways!

Have a delicious story worth sharing on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your post published here.

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(photo by Alpha via Flickr.com)
(photo by Alpha via Flickr.com)

Recently I went to a Korean restaurant with a Chinese friend. I had a craving for a spicy Korean dish called Ddeokbokki which includes sliced rice noodles, fish cakes and vegetables, and is flavored with a sauce called Gochujang. My Chinese friend ordered a mild dish with pork, while I ordered Ddeokbokki.

As the cooks were making our meals, I wondered, Did they think that I ordered the mild pork while my friend ordered the spicy Ddeokbokki? The servers even assumed I couldn’t use chopsticks — they handed me Western-style utensils when they brought the food to our table — and they weren’t the only ones.

“Do you know how to use chopsticks?” my Chinese friend asks me.

“Yes,” I reply as I pick them up and dig right into the Ddeokbokki, to the astonishment of my friend.

I break the egg and spread it over the dish, just like I learned how to do years before. Later on, I pick up a small piece of fish cake called odang, which was covered in red sauce, and encourage my friend to try it. “It’s really good.” I’ll bet nobody in that restaurant imagined that I would introduce my friend to Ddeokbokki.

As I continue eating Ddeokbokki, I have to laugh at how much my tastes have changed. Who would have thought that a girl who couldn’t stand spicy food before 2008 now craves Korean food and even likes it? If you had told me in my early twenties that I would learn to love Korean cuisine, I would have shot you an incredulous look before launching into the many reasons I wouldn’t enjoy Korean food. After all, the Russian cuisine I was raised on — salads, potatoes, vegetables, chicken and beef — never included spicy foods like Ddeokbokki.

(photo by Anna Lee via Flickr.com)
(photo by Anna Lee via Flickr.com)

But then in January of 2008, I met Elliott, an international student from South Korea — a man who I ended up dating until September 2010. While we ate a lot of American food when we were together, Elliott also started introducing me to spicier Korean cuisine. He even taught me how to use chopsticks because his apartment didn’t have any forks or spoons.

It took me a long time to get used to the spiciness of Korean food. At first, when he would make spicy ramen noodle soup, the inside of my mouth felt like it was on fire and I needed to have lots of water to quench my thirst. Sometimes I wasn’t even able to finish the soup. But despite that, I kept on trying it. Finally, on this one day in March 2010 when I was eating this spicy noodle soup, I mentioned to Elliott that it was a little bland and even added kimchi to the broth. He laughed and told me that I was behaving just like a Korean! That was the moment I realized I had truly fallen in love with Korean food forever, beyond all of my expectations.

I am reminded of the Yiddish saying “Humans make plans while God laughs,” which means that things never turn out the way you expect them too. That includes the foods you come to love and even crave in life, like a little Ddeokbokki.

Svetlana is a book review blogger and enjoys reading unique literature as well as discovering AM/WF books. Her blog has something for everyone. She is still single.

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Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

On the racism against AMWF couple Lorde and James Lowe

Lorde and James Lowe, a very public face for AMWF couples everywhereBack in December, many of you — including myself — followed a rather disturbing news story regarding racist backlash against Lorde and her Asian boyfriend James Lowe. Many readers sent along links and encouraged me to write something about it. That proved challenging in December when I just moved to China and was juggling a ton of post-moving/settling in issues that drained my energy, along with some technical difficulties for my website. Well, it’s nearly a month since the incident…but never too late for me to put my 2 cents out there and start out 2014 with a bang. 

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Sometimes people say to me, Why do you write about your relationship? You’re a white woman dating a Chinese man, so what’s the big deal? Thanks to what happened in December, I have a new answer for them: Lorde and James Lowe.

For those of you who were hibernating in December or busy with Christmas shopping, here’s the scoop:

After Kiwi chanteuse Lorde apparently said (to someone, somewhere—I literally can’t find any sources on it besides teens on Twitter) that Justin Bieber and the members of One Direction are “ugly,” wounded superfans began firing back with a barrage of potshots at James Lowe, Lorde’s rumored boyfriend. In the way that the overemotional rantings of the ignorant so often do, the attacks turned racist almost immediately.

I was still dazed and jet-lagged in the wake of an exhausting move from the US to China, but even then the news hit me hard. In the midst of the Christmas season, traditionally that time of “peace on earth and goodwill to all men”, here was a gang of cyberbullies spewing racist comments about Lorde and her boyfriend (see this story for examples) and laughing about it. And to date, no evidence has surfaced proving Lorde made the alleged “ugly” remarks about Bieber/OD…which makes me wonder if someone just went ahead and fabricated the whole thing as an excuse to humiliate Lorde.

Ugh. It’s just chilling to see this sort of thing.

But Lorde isn’t alone in her experience. After all, I’ve had to moderate hundreds of racist comments on my blog, and still receive the occasional hate mail because I’m married to a Chinese guy and blog about it with great pride.

What happened to Lorde stands as a very public example of how the Anglosphere (people in English-speaking countries) still harbors negative attitudes about dating Asian men. As much as it shouldn’t matter who you date, the racist reaction to Lorde’s boyfriend only proves that other people will make it an issue when your special someone happens to be an Asian guy.

Maybe you’ve never been publicly insulted like Lorde, but might understand this in a different way. Perhaps your great uncle made a racist comment in passing about your Asian boyfriend or husband. Or someone said you shouldn’t move back to China with him because the society is too patriarchal and you’ll be oppressed by him. (Never mind, of course, that your guy is such a kind and caring sweetheart who has never been oppressive or sexist towards you.) Or what if, like Grace of Texan in Tokyo, you discover that “You will need a coping mechanism to deal with the question ‘Why don’t you just date a white guy?’”

When it comes to dating Asian men, there’s a mountain of racism and ignorance out there as far too many folks still buy into the popular stereotypes that Asian men are somehow undatable. This is why Ranier Maningding is right on when he wrote the following regarding how to respond to the Lorde/James Lowe racist backlash:

Please, especially if you’re a non-Asian WOMAN, you need to speak up against this shit. You need to be the counteractive voice to these idiotic children. Write something, post something, or share this. You say you like Asian culture? Then voice your opinions.

Amen.

And Lorde, if you’re reading this, know that you’re a sister in the community of Western women and Asian men. We’ve got your back, girl.

P.S.: Sharing your stories is also one of the best ways to combat racism. If you’ve got something to share, why not submit your story or guest post for Speaking of China?

What’s your opinion on the Lorde/James Lowe backlash? Sound off in the comments!

What White Parents Think of Asian Boyfriends: Pub’d on AMWW

An old 1940s photo of a white husband and white wife in black and white
What white parents think of the Asian boyfriend -- the toughest subject I ever tackled, now covered in a piece in AMWW magazine. (photo by Susan H.)

Asian Man White Woman magazine just published an article of mine — What Do White Parents Think of Asian Boyfriends? Meanwhile, a commenter on this site, named David, wondered, why hasn’t she mentioned it on this blog?

Good question, David.

I’ll be honest — this remains one of the toughest articles I ever wrote. Why? The more I delved into it, the more I realized the news wasn’t pretty. And if you read it, you’ll see even I experienced some OMG moments in my own family (my grandmother, bless her heart, says the darnedest things sometimes).

Still, I stand behind it as a true depiction of white parents everywhere — yes, even my own (crosses her fingers that father and stepmother do not read it).

Here’s a snippet of it:

I’ll never forget when my Chinese husband John and I married, and my father stood up to give a speech. He spent more than half of his talk praising John — loving, hard-working, loyal, thoughtful — and ended by hugging him in front of the entire audience.

It’s such a tear-jerker of a moment that I almost cried the last time I watched it on our wedding DVD. Maybe they were tears of gratitude — because my family embraced John so publicly.

After all, not every white father — or parent — has the same opinion on the Asian boyfriend. Over the years, I’ve met many white women with Asian boyfriend and their meet-the-parents story is never quite the same. Usually, there’s acceptance. But sometimes it doesn’t come immediately, or even easily. And even if they welcome you with open arms, it doesn’t mean they understand you either.

One thing is certain, though. White parents sometimes think the darnedest things about your Asian boyfriend.

Head on over to AMWW to read the full article. And if you’re as excited about it as David, don’t forget to share. Thanks!