Your [insert ethnicity here] gift

So because I enjoy poisoning my mind, I was browsing around on Gawker.  Instead of doing the ninety million things I am supposed to be doing.  Hey, welcome to my life.

There is one post titled “Gift-Giving Horror Stories” and it includes some doozies:

From UsernamesAreAllTaken:

The first Christmas my boyfriend (now husband) were together, his mom got me the following:
1. a book called “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” (complete with a picture of a geisha on the front),
2. Memoirs of a Geisha
3. Chopstick Set

yup, i’m asian. I know. they are very very very white.

From gypsypirate:

My bf’s parents gave me:

1. a wok. (first year)
2. a 20 pound bag of rice. (the next year)
3. one of those huge multi-gallon jugs of soy sauce. (the third year)

I’m Asian. He’s Caucasian. My bf didn’t understand why I was so upset.

Nobody has yet given me Memoirs of a Geisha, although quite a few people have recommended it to me. I had to leave the library yesterday for that very reason. I have had Lisa See recommendations from white adoptive parents. I hate Lisa See. They never want to be my best friend after I tell them that.

I would actually enjoy the 20 pound sack of rice and the big soy sauce. Got chopsticks, threw the wok out when I moved. I gave somebody a 15 pound sack of rice this year. Also I often give my mom one.

Once somebody gave me a set of handmade Chinese brushes. Like art brushes, yo. This year I received two sushi sets from a colleague, purchased at some ritzy department store. Hope the thrift store enjoys them.

What [insert ethnicity here] gifts have you gotten?

20 thoughts on “Your [insert ethnicity here] gift

  1. A bag of rice and a big bottle of Soy Sauce are pretty cheap gifts to say the least. Not only were they WASP chauvinists but cheap one’s. wow.

  2. Why would you keep dating a guy who didn’t understand why these annoying gifts would bother you??? Clearly he is just as clueless as they are.

  3. I never received an ethnic gift. I think it’s because no one can really figure out what I look like I am. But, I always get looks of shock when I wish people a merry Christmas. And this year, since I started my baby afro, I’ve been wished a happy Kwaanza a lot.

    When I read the list of presents, the first thing I felt was horror. I often feel embarrassed for others, contact-embarrassment if you will- even while watching tv- and that’s what I felt. Embarrassed for the thoughtless, ignorant, gift givers. What were they thinking? I, too, wondered about the recipient who sounds like he/she is still with the boyfriend who couldn’t understand why his parents’ very stupid gift upset them.

    Lastly I thought rude and cheap! Damn.

  4. Man, that had better been fragrant Jasmine rice. I’m not opposed to getting foodstuffs as gifts, but that’s some lazy gifting!

    I’ve never received an ethnic gift. I’m lucky tho.

  5. Being American Indian (Miccosukee) I’ve received the following from friends, girlfriends, and others over the years:
    a) countless dream catchers,
    b) random books about Indians,
    c) lot’s of ghastly and ersatz Indian art

    I also get asked quite often, especially at Christmastime, if “my people” have accepted Christ yet. As if it is inevitable that “my people” will accept the white man’s God…SMH.

  6. Yet another reason why I’m a firm believer in no-gift pacts. Perfect for holidays or any gift giving event. There’s nothing I hate more than getting an unthoughtful gift that somone felt obligated to give expecially when they dont know anything about the recipient. Actually it’s a burden becaue you’ve essentially given me a choir as a gift… return or discard this gift. “But it’s the thought that counts!” Yes, I just dont think people truly put much thought into most of the gifts they give, especially on commerical holidays like Christmas. So, I can’t recall any offensive gifts I’ve recieved in the past courtesy of the no-gift pacts. sorry for the rant

    I also agree with MA, why would somone put themselves in a situation like that? I’m not trying to ‘blame the victim’ but generally certain situations/relationships can be avoided by choosing who you surround yourself with.

  7. Is it because Lisa See’s writing present exoticism to you, or is her research inaccurate?

    I’ve read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I thought it was good.

    I do admit, though, that receiving things like those oriental (well, silk) purses look really pretty. Also, yes, yes I know, they are an example of exoticism. I can’t see ever using them, however.

    I don’t get offended at this stuff. But it’s brought me to the sad realization that this part of being an adopted person is not something I can really share with those who have grown up alongside me.

  8. I got Amy Tan books from an aunt one year. She may have thought that I was Chinese.

    The other Asian-themed gifts that come to mind I actually really liked. When I was in high school, my friends chipped in and got me a Hitachi Chime-O-Matic rice cooker, and I was thrilled because my white (adoptive) parents never owned one and never ate rice.

    I was happy that my friends “saw” me as Korean and knew I was interested in my culture, even though my family refused to. I think there’s a difference between getting a person something that you *know* they would like, and getting a person something based on a stereotype.

  9. I am from Poland, and I get sometimes gifts that somehow relate to Poland. More often I hear comments and jokes about kielbasa ;-) I am lucky, though, because from the way they were given, I know it was a friendly gesture, a symbol of embracing my heritage.
    I think the one time I remember when I flipped out a bit, was when someone was casually singing a butchered version of my national anthem. We never make fun of it, always stand up and respectfully sing, not fun making.
    I know my situation is very different, it’s not the same as being peagonholed into “gifts for this ethnic person”. I can’t even comprehend how someone could be so blind.

  10. I’m adopted and half black, and I’ve gotten countless books on “great African Americans” or “unknown African American heroes,” or anything in that vein. It all stopped around middle school, though. Maybe it was because I went to a middle school that actually had more than three black people at it, or maybe it was because by 12, you’re supposed to know who you are. In some ways, it really was helpful, because my parents tried hard to help me learn about that part of my heritage, but they could only do so much. But looking back, it was also a kind of obvious form of socialization.

  11. Racist implications aside, I do love me some rice and soy. Cheap gifts or not, that is one less thing to by at the grocery store.

    I wonder if they were wrapped?

  12. YES!

    Ahaha I’d nearly forgotten about this one because it was similarly laughed-off at the time, but a year or so ago my husband’s family bought me an Asian Appetizers kit that included a book, some chopsticks, and … small plastic things that were apparently supposed to help the appetizers look more decorative, or something.

    I wonder if Amazon’s new “gift exchange” patent-pending thing could be used to solve this kind of gifting?

  13. I am Cuban and I have Chinese children, you have no idea the kind of nonense I have received over the years. I get Mexican gifts and Japanese gifts because we all look right about the same. I would have preferred a bag of rice since we all eat rice daily.

  14. I have no ethnic gift horror stories, alas. Though I suspect I will be getting a lot of them in the future. (I’m converting to Judaism. My family of origin is made up of really clueless people who already wail and hand-wring every birthday and holiday because I’m so hard to shop for.)

  15. Rice and soy sauce? I hope you got them Wonder Bread and mayonnaise the next year (if you were there).

  16. This is why you should only get people booze as presents. Even ethnically stereotypical booze is appreciated. =)

  17. I’m Jewish, and my wife is black South African. Over the years, our white friends have given her copies of “Their Eyes were Watching God” and “Africana Woman”, and several books on “how to be Jewish in the modern world” for me. Mostly these come from people who are really active liberals and do-gooders. “Merry Christmas dudes, I just reduced both of you to a single dimension.”

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