I was grumbling on Twitter earlier today about writing comics that basically required a lot of work from the reader in terms of being socially aware of some pretty common concepts IF you read a lot about intersectional social justice things, such as cultural appropriation, and ingrained racism. Because, truthfully, I don’t really feel much of a desire to write a comic that explains institutionalized racism, but it is difficult sometimes to just write comics about my personal experience when my personal immigrant experience is rooted in a lot of history that really is not taught in schools.
Anyway, I wrote this comic, and it’s about the cultural appropriation of food - the tendency of people to easily co-opt “ethnic” cuisine as their own, while simultaneously obsessing over the “authenticity” of food.
Still, I’m writing from the viewpoint of a cranky immigrant, but also as someone who considers bell hooks’ “Eating the Other" and Edward Said’s Orientalism, as major touchstones that have informed a lot of my work(and viewpoint). How does this comic read to someone that doesn’t share that same viewpoint? Or background? I think even a lot of my white liberal friends would feel annoyed at me commenting on how they consume something they love(“ethnic” food). I think a lot of my asian friends would tell me I’m over thinking it.
It rambles, I know that. But I wrote it, and I want to share it. The “you” is not a single person, but an amalgamation of experiences I’ve had.
It’s directly informed by Soleil Ho’s Craving the Other from late 2013 - I’d started this comic before I read it, but once I did, it was several moments of “YES. THIS. EXACTLY THIS” It is a much more focused essay than my comic, and I really recommend you read it.
My feelings after my white friend said “I’m so sick of fake Chinese food” while we were at a Macanese restuarant (uh, you mean the food made by Chinese people in the restaurants they own?) and after my brown friend came back from studying abroad in China and asked me if Flushing had “the real stuff” from Xinjiang. Because it’s not worth eating unless it makes a good story?