By Betty Wang
Northwest Asian Weekly
It’s grandma’s birthday banquet and your aunt on mom’s side smiles warmly at you in greeting … and then exclaims that you need to get pregnant already (also, you look like you’ve gained a few pounds). At some point in your life, you’ve come across a remote control enveloped in Saran wrap.
These points and many (almost a hundred) more are currently being illustrated, sometimes prodded or mocked playfully at, and explained at the “Stuff Asian People Like” (SAPL) blog.
Seventeen-year-old creator Peter Nguyen was not even aware of the existence of the other popular “Stuff” blogs back in February this year when SAPL was created.
Starting out as a Web site among friends, SAPL has grown rapidly. The site has reached almost a million hits in a few short months, servers have been blown out and the site’s hosting service shut off because of traffic congestion. What started out as a mere hobby of a Web site has blossomed into a comprehensive project reaching Asian American youth and simply those who are interested all across the world.
“I feel like there are so many nuances that people notice about Asians, but they don’t understand the reason why it is,” Nguyen said. “Like why are they so rude or how come they’re always so blunt or why they have to wear shoes only outside. Things like that.”
It’s more than just fleshing out mere stereotypes, however. There is often “truth to (the stereotypes),” Nguyen carefully claimed. “But it’s stuff like that that I want to explain.” He backs up every item on the blog with extensive research, historic evidence and reasoning behind each stereotype. “It’s dissecting it down to a science.”
SAPL’s goal is not just to entertain and inform, but also to bridge the gap between generations and reconnect people. “A lot of Asian people who live in America don’t know their roots. They don’t know why their parents do certain things,” Nguyen said.
Unlike the other blogs housed under the same genre, SAPL’s postings are not just written by Peter and his sister Nancy, who is the site’s media coordinator. Everyone is welcome to chime in with his or her voice. SAPL is different for that very reason. Guest writers and regular readers alike contribute notes and tips about the social, cultural and scientific quirks of the Asian people, and in doing so, strengthen communication within the Asian community.
While the majority of responses have been positive so far, every popular following has an opposition. For SAPL, the negative reaction is cut from those who claim SAPL is unoriginal. “We’ve seen this all before,” hateful comments will read. There are also accusations of plagiarism from similar sites.
Nguyen doesn’t try to take it personally nor does he think it’s worth retaliating over. “We try not to unless they escalate it,” he said reasonably, and then added, “We think it’s good that there are a lot of other Web sites that try to explain things so more people can understand where Asians are coming from.” True to SAPL’s message, unity and understanding remains its themes.
Nguyen, who has been interested in and crafting Web sites since age 9, has big plans for SAPL. Alongside his site, and he has branched out and has also created an online social community called Asian Central, which has just come out with its new design and consolidation. Nguyen will be starting college at UC Berkeley this fall as a computer science major but hopes that SAPL will continue to average one new entry a week. ♦
Betty Wang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.