Have you seen that Uncle Roger egg fried rice video? I saw it from a British friend, we found it absolutely hilarious. I then shared the video on my Facebook and my Hong Kong friends couldn’t contain themselves either. Soon enough, as the video went viral, Hong Kong media was reporting on it and even my mum who speaks almost no English knew about it.
Let’s reminds ourselves of this egg fried rice controversy:
The delight of this video goes way beyond the fact that Hersha drained her rice with a colander; it brought me joy how culturally specific it was and yet successfully made us all laugh. If you laugh together at the same joke you feel like you belong; you understand each other’s humour. This is quite special, as I often struggle to translate Cantonese or Chinese jokes to English friends, and vice versa. Only “niche” people who share the hybrid of existence with me would understand. It sometimes feels tiring to always be the “niche”. Perhaps egg fried rice is a large enough common denominator for the tech-fueled global generation, cultural studies academics can surely write an article on it.
Being hybrid also has its perks. It could be quite satisfying when you are multilingual and can call different places home. Your calendar has got double the amount of festivals to celebrate; there is more food to satisfy your cravings; you have more jokes to laugh at and more sad songs to cry to. You feel like you are savvy and adaptable like the monkey king who has 72 transformations. The trouble is when you are asked, “where you are from?” Or for the more inquisitive, “where are you REALLY from?” One day I came across this TED talk and it struck me like lightning. I encourage you to watch the whole video:
Why is the term BAMER so problematic? Because it’s a blanket term that homogenises a tapestry of human experiences. Worse still, it assumed a “white-default” and “white-default” is where the power is. What is a better term to use then? I don’t know, yet. The human experience is messy, it requires effort to understand, it takes time. Despite spending time on YouTube watching videos of people responding to egg fried rice recipes (guilty) we are more often than not strapped for time. We want things to be neat, easy and quick; “BAMER” gives us that. Perhaps the human mind also needs categorisation in order to understand the world around us. But what kind of understanding of the world will this categorisation contribute to, if you fit 70-85% of the world’s population in this “miscellaneous drawer” for humans?
But it’s ok, things can change. History is shaped and written by humans, and if enough of us share our stories, it will reflect better what “OUR-stories” are, not just “HIS-story”. We look forward to sharing our Hong Kongers’ stories with you, hope to see you there!
Joyce Nga Yu Lee