In a post about Asian Americans and Palestine, Rage speaks briefly about food, and I think it’s relevant to a lot of stuff we talk about here:
I’ve mentioned before (I think, and if not, it’s a pending post that I will definitely get to soon), that while the narrative of Asian American (and broader) cultural studies sometimes suggests that traditions and sharing around food are one of the ways that different communities build solidarity, there’s often a gap for people who observe dietary restrictions. So where the whole “we all eat with chopsticks” or “rice is central” themes are nice, it makes it hard to break bread with APA compatriots when the bread has lard and there’s pork or meat in every other dish.
Not understanding how a simple issue like poor menu planning can immediately alienate and make folks less open to collaboration when it excludes consideration of vegetarian and halal diets is a fundamental failing of a lot of pan-Asian American efforts. You want to think that the community and political stuff should take precedence, but I’ve heard time and again that when something so simple is completely not considered, people lose faith that there’s any point in trying for the bigger issues. I’ve seen this change gradually in cities on the East Coast, perhaps because South Asians and others are still more active in pan-Asian spaces, but it’s pretty terrible on the West coast and other places. If I’m going to end up at a “community” dinner where I can’t order something, I might as well be part of the NRA.
Thanks for the nudge over to that blog post!
I bet some folks, in response to this, would say that there’s something non-Asian about veg food. That if we’re really going to be building an Asian cultural community, why are we bringing in “white food” or whatever? Never mind the issue of Buddhist vegetarians, of course. 😛 Maybe I am just cynical fr. my own experiences.
or hindu vegetarians, or muslim south asians, which is who the blogger is talking about in this quote.
Yeah, definitely … I think I was flashing back to my experiences doing queer Asian stuff over here — it ends up being mostly east Asians, even tho’ the group tries to be pan-Asian it hadn’t really worked v. well, last I was there (hence me thinking of Buddhist vegs). I didn’t mean to be exclusive/oblivious, eep.
no worries sis, didn’t think you were being.
Phew! I KNOW I can be sort of tunnel-vision-y sometimes w/my own experience, esp. if I’m real grumpy about it, heh.