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i root for kobayashi

When the premier hot dog eating contest takes place this Saturday on Coney Island, I’ll be rooting for Kobayashi, and I think that reflects the complicated nature of race in America.

Kobayashi’s only real competition is Joey Chestnut, a full-blooded American boy born and raised in California.  As an Asian-American, I should be cheering on Chestnut.  Like Joey, I was born and raised in America, a full-blooded ABC.  I have no real connection to Kobayashi besides the fact that I look more like him than Chestnut.

Am I the only Asian-American who hopes Kobayashi can reclaim his title?  Care to help explain my prejudice?  Does my attitude tarnish the cause and only reinforce the perception of perpetual foreigners and mixed allegiances?


3 responses to “i root for kobayashi

  1. Dan ⋅

    No. I don’t think it is necessarily a bad form of prejudice.

    1) We, as finite animals, are naturally drawn to those that look the same; just part of human contingency.

    2) Colors and faces are powerful mediums for symbolic representations or associations (a technical term for this is ‘metonymy’). I am sure somewhere deep inside you, if you have had enough negative experience with white faces, the white person conjures up mixed emotions and feelings, so, given only two choices, you chose the Asian face. If there were two Asians, one an Asian and the other an Asian American, and you still chose the Asian instead of the Asian-American, one could be justified in questioning ones allegiance. But even here, I think the suspicion is unwarranted; perhaps it wasn’t the color of the face but the hair-do or the smile or some other feature of the face not related to race.

    Therefore, I don’t think your decision to cheer for an Asian face necessarily perpetuates those negative stereotypes about Asians. I am sure if the situation was reversed, a similar phenomenon would have occurred with a white person (e.g., a white person living in Asia as an Asian citizen might have a poster of a white soccer player from England). Who would want a hero with a face that conjures up negative associations containing painful experiences of racism, oppression, exclusion, and prejudice? Heroes are icons of hope, their faces and their lives should conjure up positive associations which inspire us and push us forward to new heights of human flourishing… Dang! Check out kobayashi’s arms! (I’m not gay)

  2. Every Olympics I have a dilemma: Who do I root for? Athletes representing USA or China?

    No matter how much I insist I’m American, I have people constantly telling me with their words and actions that I am lumped in with the rest of China.

    So yes, I root for Kobayashi, since I am conditioned to be lumped in with everyone who has slanty eyes. Michael Chang, Michelle Wie, Michelle Kwan, heck, even Ichiro.

  3. Jerry Day ⋅

    Root for whoever.

    Cheer them both on.
    It is good practice for christian life, where we are cheering on our brothers and sisters pursuing holiness.

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