Today I overheard someone saying that I “seemed sweet.” Just in case you were wondering, this is NOT a compliment, particularly when it is directed at an Asian(-looking) woman.
The connotation in this case seems to fall along the lines of thinking of me as cute, non-threatening, helpless, demure, and a follower. In the American context of things, these qualities do not seem to spell out “virtue.” Pretty condescending.
What should I say? What can I say? I wonder. Memories of college days come flooding back when people in the (mostly white) Jewish community saw and described me as “that sweet Asian-Jewish girl.”