In this article, I’d like to address the problems with White businesses that make their profit by selling Asian culture. White people making it their business (quite literally) to represent and commodify Asian culture is shockingly common: from creating and dominating an entire market around sacred Yoga practices that originated and proliferated in Southeast Asia.
When I first started writing this article, I began recounting all the racist encounters I had with non-Asian folks in Germany. My classmates referring to the Onigiri (rice balls) I had for packed lunch as “smelly brains”, asking me whether I could speak Chinese, and telling me I was “pretty even though I’m Asian”. I would respond “I’m only half Japanese”, clinging onto my German side as much as possible. I thought about the amount of time I spent in front of the mirror trying to make myself look more White.