Saturday, August 05, 2006

What Immigrants Bring to Oregon

Ugh, you hear it all the time. “Ey, Mayor Potter, what’s the deal with that new office of Fresh-Off-the-Boat Attitudes?”
“You really think a huddle of smart-aleck immigrants are worth our money?”
I’ve seen it happen, I’ve watched him pause, before responding. “Hmm, Yes, Immigrants, Uh, why are they important to us?”

I hold up three fingers for each big reason we are indispensable. Us immigrants, to America.
Okay, once and for all, City Hall types, snip and magnet this column to your file cabinet --
Fresh off the boaters are unabashed believers in American participatory democracy. We love the stuff. Cynicism and his uncivil cousin, passivity, have not yet visited our humble homes.

Newcomers are all about community. Count us in your tribe, and we’ll rumble to the last stubborn soldier for you. Loyalty is the currency of every ricepicker’s realm.

Immigrants are above all, a practical folk. Wasting time, squandering face, and most importantly, misspending money, are antithetical to these very bones.

Let me give you some cultural differences, we went by a pet store and here is what we call our D list. D is not for dope, or for dumb, D is for dog.

At the dog store, we saw doggie videos. VHS format is $10.50; DVD for $15.50.
You sit Skippy in front of your Sanyo. These movies are for him. Shot from a “Doggie Cam point of view. Whew!!!
This is decidedly unFOB (Fresh off the Boat).
Dogs do not figure big into democracy. People do. People watch movies.

On the doggie store’s shelves there are clothes. Dog clothes. Shoes, shirts, sweaters, windbreakers, rain slickers. They sell Doggie-Ts that say; Pet this; Rich Bitch; Bad Hair Day and perhaps the most vexing for FOB folks; “Favorite Grandchild” in both hot pink and baby blue. Life jackets run from $49. to $70.
For Dogs.

Definitely not FOB. Of course, we are communal; certainly I am loyal as a dog. But dogs belong outside. They wait below Aunties kitchen window for leftovers.
They’ve never—not in any grand elder’s memory – worn coats or galoshes. Dogs are pretty good at ducking rain. Indeed, it’s a dog’s job to protect us, not the other way around. As a matter of fact, when things get really bad…we eat them.
Lab adobo. Yum!

In front of the doggie store, there are strollers. Dog strollers. You put Muffy in there. You push her around town. There’s screen windows all around so she can see. “Mesh provides full protection from bugs.” The best model has shock absorbers in back and bright reflectors up front. For safety. They go for $127. to $229. That’s US dollars. That’s totally unFOB.

FOB is as follows; Money is really hard to get. Really hard to save. Really important for schooling our kids, for keeping healthy our grandparents, for living cozy in a house ma’s dreamt of; for dressing good at church or temple or mosque, for arriving there in a really cool Acura. White is best.
Money is necessary for back home; money can’t be made back there like you can here. Our money will make right all the bad brought upon us by awful winds and ugly oceans and angry volcanoes and murderous quakes. And our stupid sultans. Our careless leaders.
Ayoh, Portlanders. Oregon does not have too many immigrants – indeed, we have not enough. Newcomers come practical, clear headed. Like common sense, you can’t have too much.

This article taken from The Asian Reporter.


matblue said...

I love that you posted something from the Asian Reporter! I love that little paper. And the commentary is great. His point is dead-on and the part about sending money back home where the less fortunate still are aches me. God do I hope the immigrants who enjoy the freedom in America not forget their brothers and sisters living under tyranny back home.

FCB said...

Yes, I read the Asian Reporter whenever I see a copy. Of course because you are married to a lovely Asian woman and your ministry and affiliaton with Asian culture and missions has given me a far greater affection and interest in Asia. It is an interesting paper with news that is not in The Oregonian, to understate it.
It seems that all immigrants that I have talked to have not forgot their families. That seems to be curiously American.

BgArt said...

"news that is not in The Oregonian, to understate it." What? They started putting news in the Oregonian? When did this happen?

That was a good peice though. When we lived in Portland, we tended to live in the more socially diverse neighborhoods. Being the only white, Christian, umpteenth generation American (most the friends I had were only second or third) in your group of friends gives you a perspective you never lose growing up.

FCB said...

I can imagine being in such diversity would give you a much deeper perspective than what I grew up in, which was nearly all white with some Hispanics.