Thursday, December 4, 2008


I read somewhere recently that people are leaving Southern California in droves because of the economy. They're moving to Idaho or Oklahoma where a 2000+ sq ft house with 5 bedrooms and 3 baths could be gotten for $100,000, as opposed to the rundown 400 sq ft room they could get here. And I have to admit, the snow and leaf fall in those areas look pretty good (although I hear it gets old really fast). And don't get me started about the politics in this state. What kind of people vote to legalize marijuana and eliminate affirmative action in the same election? Politically, we're second only to Florida, land of the chads.

Then there's the earthquakes, the mudslides, the fires. And of course the smog and traffic. I can't even begin to think about Hollywood and the celebrities because then I'll really go nuts. And can anyone wear any shoes besides those flip flops?

I'll take all of that for one reason and one reason alone: diversity.

Where else can you go from desert to mountain to sandy beach to rocky surf to forest just within a couple of hours? You can grow up here and be a surfer, skiier, and rock climber, all in one.

More importantly, where else can an ethnic person go and not have everyone assume that they're foreign born? Here, people don't blink if you're wearing a turban or sari, not even the Caucasians. We know that Silva is Portuguese, Patel and Singh are Indian, Reza is a Persian man's first name, that Kim and Park indicate Korean heritage. Here we all know what kim bob, naan, tapas, and dim sum are. We don't do double-takes when we see a black man holding an Asian woman's hand (at least not very much) or when their children trail behind them. We don't even do it with a black man holding an Asian man's hand with their children.

We haven't found this kind of diversity in very many other places. I certainly didn't find it in Texas growing up, when our friends would come over and ask us what the chopsticks were for. Nor when we were stopped by U.S. border patrol in Canada while everyone else was allowed to drive through. The guy stared at us and asked,"where did you two meet?" as if it was impossible that our different ethnicities would ever come together. I was sorely tempted to say,"in a brothel in Swaziland" but prudently held my tongue.

I remember flying to California in my youth and taking the taxi to my grandmother's house. I stared the whole way there, noticing all the Asian drivers that I never saw at home. I stared at the Asians everywhere I went because I had never seen that many of them before.

I'm not saying that people everywhere else are racist, that they're intolerant somehow. Just that people here are more used to walking alongside all these other cultures and ethnicities; we don't get noticed. Of course if you're a big ham and don't look Caucasian, then by all means, move to Texas or wherever. But we're staying here with our hapa kids.

On second hand, this is the land of the Rodney King riots, so what the heck do I know? One thing is for sure: I hate moving, so we're staying put.

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