I was sitting here at Suzzalo Espresso reading Landscapes of the Jihad for my history class when an older white woman came up to me holding a file folder full of papers. I thought she was going to ask if she could sit at my table. Instead she asked, "do you speak English?" Given a different context, time, place, state of mind, I might have unleashed my fury on her, verbally of course. I had a flashback of the time a white woman at McDonald's in Orlando asked if I was part of the Splendid China circus performance she just saw because, you know, all Asian women do acrobatics and spin plates on their heads.

Anyways, I replied only with "yes." She asked if I could do a 5 minute psychology study and out of curiosity I agreed. Knowing that these tests always involve tricking participants I wanted to see what this was about. The task involved coming up with as many words as possible out of 6 letters. I filled the whole page. Then came the survey and it was about feeling American and wanting to be American and my level of anger at the beginning of the task. The debrief at the end explained it all. It was a study of Asian Americans and confusion/anger about not being accepted or thought of as "American." Cool. I wonder how they record reactions of people who refuse or comment on the "do you speak English" introduction and how that factors. Actually it probably doesn't since it's a social science study and all this stuff probably falls by the wayside. But I do also wonder if they use the same research assistant to collect participants and if they're all white and female and older. You would have to control for that I'd imagine. Man I'd hate to be that research assistant walking around the campus of an English-speaking American university asking Asian American students if they speak English. Basically getting paid to be an asshole. Sucks to be her. But it's cool that someone is doing that study.


Ben said...

Oh, that IS a cool project! And the whole study started with the first thing she even said to you ... frankly, you're the ideal candidate for her, because you are vocal about your feelings and you have strong feelings and well-educated opinions on the subject. Score for her!

But yeah, that must really suck to go around asking, "Do you speak English?"

Alternate answer: "No, mofo, me no speeky no English. Now run along and leave me the fvck alone."

Robyn said...

cool! are they going to share the results of the study with you when they are done?