On Racism

I honestly don’t think we will ever live in a world free of racism. I’m not even being pessimistic here, it’s just the way I predict things will be given oh, I don’t know, almost all of recorded history and the ongoing discrimination people of color face even in this day and age. Hell, I can’t even go out to Manhattan for an afternoon without hearing a “ni hao ma” somewhere along the line (seriously, NYC, sometimes I am so ashamed of you).

I tend to make friends with decent human beings and given the very specific sample of society that I interact with day to day, I often forget how the rest of America/the world thinks. Then a hot topic like Linsanity comes along and I’m faced with a wall of racist comments to any article with a comment box and it’s like … oh yeahhhh, I forgot about you guys. And yes, it is the Internet and people are given a mighty Cloak of Invisibility to cackle under, but the fact that there are so many people who even THINK these things is revolting.

And I will not stop saying this until people finally get with the program, but what is it with people who still think it’s okay to be racist towards Asians? Running with the whole Jeremy Lin topic that sparked my post, ESPN fired a writer for publishing an article titled “Chink in the Armor” after playing it off as a mistake. Out of ALL the words available in the English vernacular, you pick the most offensive terms used towards Asians and call it a mistake?! Don’t go all Jeff Winger on me and pretend that you “don’t see the world through that lens” and somehow failed to catch what I’m sure you thought would be a clever, backlash-free play on words.

It reminds me an awful lot of Russell Peters’ bit on how white people are coming up with ways to degrade black people now that the n-word is off the table (ie. Could you pass me the … vinegar?). … Except chink reads chink no matter how you hard you try to hide behind its other meaning.

And you best believe that the public outrage would be greater if there was a racially-charged headline towards a different race. Hell, I think that more people were up in arms about the possible decision to make the new Spiderman half-black half-Latino. Though haters, you do realize that there are hundreds of white superheroes to go around for your children to look up to, and that one of Marvel’s biggest franchises (begins with an X *coughcough*) is one huge allegory to the plight of minorities? And if you’re so serious about the continuity of fictional characters, why is it okay for white people to play Asian heroes (I’m getting to it) but a white hero can’t be succeeded by a minority character? And I don’t remember people getting crazy angry when it came out that Will Smith was offered the role as Superman.

The truth is that “white knighting” can be very selective.

I remember back when the live action Avatar movie came out and the racebending issue was, for the most part, swept under the rug by Hollywood despite the protest by fans and boycott by industry professionals. And I think it was even more ludicrous back then, when CLEARLY the cartoon was a representation of a fantastical Asian world with chopstick-using, hanzi-reading, traditional Asian costume-wearing, Eastern martial arts-practicing inhabitants, and yet everyone was defending casting choices because that guy from Twilight could NEVER be racist (even if he said all he needs to do is get a haircut and a tan and the audience will hopefully suspend disbelief THAT HE’S NOT WHITE BUT INUIT) and Aang has huge eyes so he can’t be Asian!! And YOU KNOW WHAT? The director was Indian!! INDIAN, I SAY!! And the Fire Nation (aka the baddies) that is so clearly influenced by Japanese and Chinese culture was made Indian and that was that.

And just the example I was looking for! Thanks Forbes~!1! If you scroll down a bit in that J.Lin article, you will see an outlandish amount of comments saying how sad it is that the race card is pulled on everything and okay, so now we’re not allowed to say “chink in the armor?” Dude, no, you are not allowed to say chink with regards to anything Asian. Do you know how offensive that word is? Have you ever heard any Asian calling another Asian by that term? I can guarantee you that you will be cut out of my life if you ever call me that and I will be spending the next few weeks working on a hate campaign.

It is a derogatory term that white Americans used towards Chinese immigrants during the xenophobic episode that resulted in the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act back in the 80s, and it evolved to cover all Eastern Asians. Why? Because they were “all the same,” a notion that is still prevalent today. I will never forget the day some kid mistook me for my friend who looks absolutely nothing like me after spending hours with her in the library the night before.

But the saddest part is that there are a handful of Asians who want people to get over this recent incident with what “the c-word” should primarily refer to now that I think about it. And before you go off on why I’m allowed to say it but you aren’t, think about it and hopefully you’ll work it out on your own. One of the most common points that I have seen made in the defense of racism towards Asians is that this is the first time I’m hearing this because Asians just take it and don’t have a history of complaining “enough” to be heard <____<.

Just how many people have to be fired for offending Asians and top 100 most subscribed Youtubers have to release videos on race for you to understand that any kind of racism, including that towards Asians, is NOT okay (and that people enjoy watching Asians in the media for that matter).

And that is why not one comment is allowed to slide.

No kimchee-scented Kleenex, slanteyed photo, offensively stereotypical character, or ching chong ling long ting tong will get a pass.

If you possess on your being a certain invisible knapsack of white privilege, congratulations, you have perhaps one of the strongest and most useful tools known to man. You should definitely read it; it’s very eye-opening. I myself gave up unpacking my own bag early on because I discovered that there was a hole in the bottom.

Unless you have grown up speeding up your pace upon hearing a racial slur directed towards you, with a lack of representation of people from your ethnic background in the media, learned in class of all the undeserved atrocities your homeland has faced throughout history (yes, I’m looking at you White History Month seekers, and btw, the answer is every damn month), or felt powerless in the face of a far more privileged peer, don’t you dare think you are being racially discriminated against. Don’t tell me that there isn’t really any racism towards Asians/it isn’t regarded to be nearly as offensive as other types of racism when yellow face is an accepted practice (ie. The Last Airbender, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Crank: High Voltage, Dragonball Evolution, the forever beloved Breakfast at Tiffany’s …), every school with Affirmative Action has an Asian quota, and every Asian-related racist controversy will always have at least one article going, “Is what XYZ said/did/wrote really racist?”

The answer is yes. If you have to question whether something is offensive or not, it probably is.

This is a monster of a post, I know. I’ve gone back and forth with it, cutting out entire blocks and trying to make the tone softer before grappling with whether or not I should publish this period, but I don’t want to have to censor myself because I’m worried about what people will think of me.

In any case, only the people who will actually take away something from this or can truly relate to it 100% will bother reading this anyway, so to those who have stuck around until now, thanks.


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