From FOB to Fobulous

How Asian Americans are turning an insult upside down.

<a href="">margolove</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Getting called a FOB (“fresh off the boat”) used to be the ultimate put-down for Asian Americans. But “FOB blogs” have turned the insult on its head by celebrating FOB-iness—particularly the culture gap between assimilated Asian kids and their parents. Favorite topics include parental quirks such as excessive frugality, unrealistic academic expectations (“So I heard you got into Harvard for graduate school, that is very…uh…adequate”), and ESL malapropisms (“the itchy, bitchy spider went up the water spout”).

Beyond the filial impiety, there’s a streak of pride, says Suzanne Leung, the 25-year-old cocreator of the blog Absolutely Fobulous: “We really see it as embracing our culture. When we say we’re being FOBs, it’s just being true to where we come from.” Teresa Wu, the 21-year-old behind My Dad Is a FOB and My Mom Is a FOB, says that “Being a FOB’s kid is cool.” She’s learned to take condiment packages from restaurants and “judges prospective husbands for their height, majors, and wealth,” something that may sound familiar to anyone with an immigrant relative, whether it’s a Chinese mom or a Jewish bubbe.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend