The body always remembers. Like other children of Vietnamese war refugees, I understand how hardships and inconceivable loss leave marks. Psychologists in the 1990s found roughly half of Holocaust survivors were still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience). Emerging studies show that, in communities of survivors, trauma may also be passed onto subsequent generations through epigenetic changes, where the mechanism by which our body reads DNA – not DNA itself – is altered (Stanford University). This intergenerational transfer can also be behavioral; parents with severe anxiety may model detrimental patterns of thinking and feeling.
It’s hypocritical to consume Asian or Asian-American cultural products and then refuse to defend Asian communities in the U.S. – or worse, exhibit open hostility against them. At the same time, we shouldn’t predicate supporting immigrant communities on enjoying their food, especially since the reason why so many Asian immigrants work in restaurants is itself a product of American racism.
The travel industry, one of the most profitable, fastest-growing industries globally, is worth $8.9 trillion (World Travel and Tourism Council). In 2018, Black travelers spent $63 billion on global tourism, an enormous leap from $48 billion in 2010 (Mandala Research). Additionally, in 2001, the United States Travel Association (USTA) identified African Americans as the fastest-growing segment in the travel industry. With these numbers, it’s clear that Black travelers are ready, willing, and able to spend their money on experiences in their chosen destinations, yet we are treated like we don’t belong.
The fun of this segment is based on disgust: we see our famous celebrities shriek, gag, and embarrass themselves confronted with revolting foods. Some of the items featured were clearly specially created to evoke just such revulsion: hot dog juice, hot sauce and olive jello, the aforementioned ant pickle.