Friday, February 26, 2010

this box or that box

Which box do I check? Korean or American? I look Korean but really I’m American.

I ask my husband as I stare at the application for an H-Mart card. I feel stupid. I’m thirty-four, not four. I should know what box to check without having to ask someone else.

He responds very rationally.

I think what they’re actually trying to find out is what language is your primary language so that they know what language to use when sending you marketing materials.

Oh, I say somewhat befuddled. Okay. Right. Well, then I guess that means I check “American.”


Anonymous said...

It's Jeremy...haaa! I understand the confusion over the "correct" box to check, though. When growing up, I don't know how many times I checked the "O" box for "other." I always joked to people, "Oh, I thought it meant 'Oriental'!" Heck, at least your box said "Korean"...

Mia_h_n said...

In this case it was probably more a question of what you are rather than who, if you get my distinction. I mean, you said it yourself, you may look Korean but you are American.

(Not sure if this was a little too difficult to understand for people outside my head)

Jeff and Madeline said...

I have been discussing this with my students (college), I must say the debate is raging. Sadly, it is being debated by people who don't really have to deal with the box at all. Their perspectives are interesting, if not infuriating sometimes, and I don't think there will be time soon that "the box" is not necessary. I guess the question should be "is it necessary?" Yes and no.
Anyway, I know I am off topic a bit, but I just thought I would share.

I think your husband was right, it is for marketing.

Mila said...

Haha, Jer. You make me laugh.

H-Mart is a ginormous "Korean" (Korean-owned, Korean-run) super food mart...maybe the Korean version of "Walmart." So, that's why "Korean" was an option. They have "H-cards" which are just rewards cards like a Kroger card, etc. So, I think Mike was right...they were just trying to figure out what language to use for marketing materials/emails. But that may be one of the only times I've actually encountered the option "Korean." I've definitely encountered the "other" box plenty of times. In fact, in the town I live in, Mike and I recently each received forms for jury duty. The form had three options: "White," "Black," and "Other."

Mia, you're so funny. I totally get the distinction. ;)

Wendy, as usual, you have a depth of understanding that is refreshing and needed. I greatly appreciate your comments and points of view. :)

Jeff and Madeline said...

Funny you mention this:

The form had three options: "White," "Black," and "Other."

Last month we studied Black history/Slavery/Civil Rights and M asked me on a couple of occassions "What about Asians? How did they (Southerners) think of us? Could I sit with you on the bus? What fountain/school/counter would I use/go to?
Much of the history is told in Black and White terms. It was a great time of learning and understanding in relation to both discrimination/model minority status. I am proud of her for her questions and interest.

We continue to learn together--how far we have come and how far there is yet to go.

Anonymous said...

It's Jeremy again...ah, now that you put it in the context of it being a Korean store, that makes it much more benign. I think I would've done a double-take too, though! :)

Wendy, I don't know how Southerners would've viewed us Asians. There was a lot of discrimination though, mainly on the West Coast, in places like San Francisco, back in the 19th century. And don't even get me started on the WWII Japanese internment camps here in America...

Mia_h_n said...

Wendy - that sounds like a really interesting talk. Wish I could have been there ;)