There’s a lot of racism towards Asians here in Paris that stems straight from ignorance –– they assume everyone is Chinese –– and I’ve heard so many awful stories from my peers in the UC program, but surprisingly, I haven’t experienced any of it firsthand.
At first I thought it was because no one could tell I was Asian. But then I noticed something. What’s interesting is that while there aren’t many full Asian Parisians here, there are quite a few people I see on the street who appear mixed, like me.
Most often, the French people I encounter at stores and restaurants speak rapid French to me first when I greet them before I have to ask them to speak slower. So I thought maybe my French greetings just sound really credible. But on more than one occasion when I’ve eaten with friends from my program, a waiter has spoken English to my friends and then French to me. I think people think I’m French? Some of my friends have remarked that they see a lot of people on the metro or on the street who look like me, which is crazy to hear.
It’s interesting that France seems to have strong individual memories –– lots of hapa people, people of every religion and race and culture –– but a very weak collective memory.