Readers' Submissions

OMG! I Am Black

  • Written by Mike
  • April 12th, 2011
  • 7 min read

“Oh My God I Am Black” my Thai wife exclaimed last summer in our Mid-Western city while riding in our car on a hot sunny day. Most readers will understand the Thai and more likely a larger Asian issue with a dark complexion. My wife like
many Thais has an obsession with white skin color. Ever vigilant to avoid the sun she will wear a wide brimmed hat and even hold in place a cloth over the side window on road trips. Her skin color is about the same as our US President Obama. So
she is really somewhere in the middle on the dark light scale. In the US she sees many African Americans on TV as well as older whites in a remarkable contrast to Thai TV where you see mostly young white skinned people. I tried explaining to her
that is the US skin color is not important like Thailand, after all even our president is darker just like you. I thought that perhaps the significant numbers of African Americans and their presence in broadcast media would cause her to re-think
her belief. Her conclusion was that it is fine to have dark skin except if you are Thai!

She remains fascinated with snow. Shortly after her arrival in October of 2009 we had an early snowfall. She had seen snow on television in Thailand but had never experienced it. It was like watching a toddler playing in the snow. She chatted
with her family on a web cam and brought some to the computer cam to show them. Her family and friends were quite interested in snow the same as her. I suppose if you have never actually experienced snow it would be a curiosity. The Winter that
followed was the worse I have ever experienced, but quite a kick for her.

The trees in my city of about 1 million in population, began to shed leaves in her first month here as they always do in the Fall. She was quite concerned that the trees had died and they might fall on our house. I explained to her that they
were not dead but had merely gone to sleep, and that the leaves would grow back after Winter. She accepted my explanation but, as I later discovered had some reservations. When Spring arrived and the trees began to grow she was amazed and in awe
with the beauty of the season. At age 44, then she has not seen changing seasons like in our community. It seems she did not quite except my explanation that the leaves would come back.

She enjoys cooking shows on television, particularly a young blond man with spiked hair that takes huge bites of the sandwiches he devourers. One hefty lady that cooks and bakes is most obviously from the South part of our country. This is
quite evident from her Southern drawl that includes y'all. If you have spoken to someone from the South US you will understand this version of English. For the uninformed this word actually means you all. She is intent on improving here English
so she asked me about “what y'all mean?”. I explained that English had many different dialects and many people from the South in American have what we call a Southern Accent. She understood my explanation and begin to try to
include this dubious word in her vocabulary. I don't quite know how to explain how awful it sounds for a person with a strong Thai accent to try to say y'all. It just doesn't come out right at all! Another time when I came home
from work she greeted me with “Wazup man gimme five!”. My thought was you have been watching too much television. I convinced her it was better to learn proper English first.

The US is truly a country of immigrants and she has difficulty wrapping her head around this. To her, an American is a Falang, white and likely of European, or Scandinavian decent. I explained to her that African Americans were very much
like me and not at all like the Africans from Africa that can be found on the streets of Bangkok. She accepted this explanation of how African Americans fit in our culture. We happened to speak with a young Thai woman at the grocery store that
had been born and raised in the US. She even had the Mid-west accent that is common to our area. I told her that she was an American the same as me. This was just not within her scope of what an American is and so far she isn't able to grasp
the concept but understands that she has the same rights our country provides for me.

She has a work ethic that is nothing short of incredible. She wanted to work shortly after she arrived but it took about 6 months to secure the permit and she attended English school while she waited. Marginal English skills were a considerable
issue, but I helped her secure a job in a commercial laundry that was owed by the company I worked for. There was a Thai woman that worked there as well and could help her along. The work was repetitious, boring and quick paced. I would guess
not a job many enjoy although management did try to make it as pleasant as possible. She quickly earned the respect of her boss by working hard and always willing to work overtime. When she left after only a few months her boss told her if you
ever want to come back you will always have a job with me.

She did massage in Thailand for about 5 years before coming to the US. (I must add strictly traditional.) It took awhile but we were finally able to get her started last month. She works at a massage school that also has a clinic that both
students and licensed therapists work in. She is quickly building a client base that ranges from professional athletes to the elderly and people that have multiple health issues. The owner of this small school that has taken her under wing tells
me “I have been in this profession for over 35 years and I have to say she is the best therapist I have seen in that time.” A professional athlete (yes, you may know his name) told the owner that he had high dollar trainers work
on his issues without even close to the success of my wife's single treatment. She told me “I have big man. I never see a man big that”. She is quickly beginning to fill her days with appointments and she gets $60 to $80 per
massage as compared to the $5 she got in Thailand. I am proud of her, although she remains unaffected by her very obvious popularity and quick success. Good for her!

She continues to work on her English and has made good progress. When she worked in the laundry she would wait in the coffee break room for me to pick her up. She had to wait about 45 minutes as I completed my work day a little later than
her. While she was waiting in the break room a security guard would shuffle his way to a small office just off the room and utter “How ya doin'?” to her. She heard “What are you doing?” and asked me why he asked
her that “I just sit here why he ask what I do?”. Of course I explained what the meaning of this greeting was.

She farts. Yes, you did hear it right. I read somewhere in Stick's massive pages that if your Thai woman farts in your presence she is comfortable with you. Still Stick, I am not so sure this is a good thing. I do think it is some of
the American food she eats, perhaps lactose intolerance. We will get some dietary aid for her the next visit to the store.

I hope this is of some interest to readers. My experience with this lovely lady has been rewarding and positive. As a secondary benefit she keeps things interesting as she adjusts to life in America. She is bright and quick to learn. A person
with strong traditional Thai values coupled with some more modern thinking after living in Bangkok so long. She understands that America may see and do things differently than Thailand. Still, I am sure she will avoid the sun like a vampire to
avoid the unthinkable black skin.

Mike



Stickman's
thoughts:

I have never heard about Thais farting in your presence being comfortable with you, but then again, nothing would surprise me!